Monday, 30 May 2011

SIDS: Educational presentation

SIDS: Long QT Syndrome

Robin Williams Adams
THE LEDGER : 21, 2011

LAKELAND | Robert Davis was feeling fine in early April, running the bases with his Highland City baseball team, until he suddenly fell to the ground at second base.
Becka Engle sits with her son Robert Davis, 9, at their home in Lakeland. Robert recently had a pacemaker/defibrillator implanted put in to keep his heart on track.
"We thought he did a belly flop and lost his breath," Becka Engle said.
In addition to the implanted device, Robert also takes beta blockers, drugs that block or reduce stimulation of the heart.
He's able to attend Highland Grove Elementary School, where his fellow pupils and the staff are supportive, and walk around the neighborhood.
Contact sports and swimming are off limits, however, which means no more playing third base for the Rangers, although he still attends their games.
Trivedi said fishing should be OK if he doesn't go jumping into the water.
Tyler Davis, Robert's father, said his son is adjusting well to the restrictions. He's started playing the guitar and is spending more time on video games as he waits to learn how much activity is OK.
"He's the strongest and bravest little kid I know," Davis said.
Trivedi said that within two or three days in the hospital, Robert had about come to terms with it.
‘‘I have adult patients who can't do that," said Trivedi, who is with Pediatric Cardiology Associates.
He's still a kid, however, and he's tempted to press the boundaries. When other relatives were swimming at a family event, Robert wanted to at least put his feet in the water. Then he wanted to sit on the steps.
"You have to tell a 9-year-old not to be a 9-year-old," said his stepfather, Jeff Engle.
After he collapsed at the baseball field, Robert was taken first to Lakeland Regional Medical Center.
LRMC's pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Jonathan Reich of Watson Clinic, was on vacation, Becka Engle said, but LRMC was able to transmit Robert's EKG results to him.
Reich said Robert had "all the signs of long QT" and needed to be transferred to the children's hospital.
He spent about a week in the hospital and was out of school for two weeks. Before he returned, his family went to school to meet with his teacher and a school nurse. The meeting ended up including 15 or 20 people as other third-grade teachers, a cafeteria worker, the physical education coach and paraprofessionals who assist teachers came to learn how they could help.
He had one spell of feeling light-headed when he returned, which led to paramedics being called in, Robert said, although he said he feels "a whole lot better now."
His classmates have been very nice to him, he said, although a couple "I think are exaggerating" when they do things like turning on the water or picking up pencils for him.
With all the restrictive changes his illness has brought about, there has been one positive one, his mother and stepfather said. They had Robert baptized and began attending a church whose members reached out to them.
His mother was waiting to let him decide about baptism on his own. With the impending pacemaker/defibrillator surgery, however, family members wanted to go ahead with baptism.
In response to a request, the Rev. Andy Oliver, associate pastor at First United Methodist Church, drove to St. Joseph's Children's Hospital the day of the surgery and baptized Robert. The head of its children's program prayed with them and saved Robert an Easter basket, Becka Engle said.
Robert has a new nickname, the "battery operated boy," and family members said they're taking the doctor's recommendations very seriously.
"Most people don't get a second chance," Jeff Engle said

CHILD ABUSE: England: Baby P and Ms Shoesmith's criticism of the system in which she worked

"Sharon Shoesmith accused of 'staggering conceit'" That's the headline. As "owner" of this blog I usually do not comment, and although there is fair argument about Ms Shoesmith's personal responsibility, her own criticisms of the system in which she worked should be well known. The article has been pruned to show her criticisms. The appalling case of "Baby P" is described in my book.

28 May 2011
Ms Shoesmith, could be in line for a £1 million compensation payout after winning a Court of Appeal ruling that she was unfairly sacked as director of children’s services at Haringey Council after the 17-month-old toddler was killed while under her department’s supervision.
In an angry interview which will only heighten controversy over her actions, she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that other agencies were involved in the failures which led to the toddler’s death – and said it was impossible to stop the deaths of children.
She went on: “This is much more complex than saying 'You are responsible. Let’s sack you and the whole psyche of the nation can be at peace’.
“You cannot stop the death of children. Across the country there are 39,000 children on child protection registers today.
“As a director of children’s services I cannot control what the police do, I cannot control what health does. I cannot control the fact that when a social worker rings to get an appointment at a hospital she cannot get it for four months,
“I cannot control the fact when a social worker is referring a child for abuse that she rings up and finds that a case has not been allocated to a police officer for four months.”

SBS: Ontario: High Shaken Baby Syndrome for Cornwall Ontario Area


The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) catchment area has disproportionately higher numbers of Abusive Head Injury (formerly known as Shaken Baby Syndrome) in children. That’s why the EOHU has teamed up with local partners, including the three local birthing hospitals, to support a community-wide prevention program.
The Period of PURPLE Crying® is a new program that is given to all parents in hospital after the birth of their baby. The program features a free 10-minute DVD and an 11-page booklet. “I am very aware that babies often cry, and at times to the point where parents become worried and upset. The Period of Purple Crying® was developed to explain that crying during the first 5 months of life is common, even in perfectly healthy babies. Sadly, out of frustration or desperation, a parent or other caregiver may shake the baby causing serious brain damage or even death. Our hope is that this program will help avoid any further preventable tragedies”, explains Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health.
Because this program is new, the Health Unit encourages parents of babies 5 months of age and younger to contact Health Line at  613-933-1375 or at 1 800 267-7120 to find out how they  can obtain a free copy of this program.
If you or someone you know has a newborn baby who cries a lot, it is important to understand that in most cases, it is normal. To find out more about The Period of PURPLE Crying®, visit

SBS: Florida: Lonnie Leonard, 22, is facing first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse

 Bianca Prieto : May 19 2011

Lonnie Leonard
Lonnie Leonard, 22, stands beside a public defender inside a courtroom at the Orange County Jail on May 19. (Orange County Jail, Orange County Jail / May 19, 2011)
An Orange County man is facing a first-degree murder charge in the November death of his girlfriend's 6-month-old daughter.
Lonnie Leonard, 22, is also charged with aggravated child abuse in the death of the infant, Malloree Tatum, who died Nov. 20. He was arrested Wednesday afternoon by Orange County deputies.
Leonard appeared before a judge Thursday morning who ordered him held without bond. He spoke little during the short hearing, and said he obtained a lawyer shortly after the "incident" and didn't want a public defender.
Leonard, who is not the child's father, claimed he was asleep in the living room and woke up when he heard two thumps, according to court documents. He found Malloree face down on the floor beside the bed and assumed she rolled off the edge.
However, investigators say Leonard, the child's mother Tameka Tatum and another family member told them the girl was behind in her motor skills and had not yet learned how to roll over or crawl.
Doctors and a medical examiner say it's impossible that the injuries caused from rolling off of a bed, but more consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome, according to an arrest affidavit.
A physician at Florida Hospital South noted Malloree had severe bleeding in her eyes and said it was "one of the worst cases he has ever seen," the affidavit states.
In late March, a medical examiner determined Malloree died of "blunt head trauma" and ruled her death a homicide.
On Monday, homicide investigators filed a detailed 11-page arrest warrant for Leonard detailing the last days of the child's life, court records show.
The warrant shows Tatum said she left Malloree at home with Leonard while she went to work at Florida Hospital South on Nov. 17. About an hour later, Leonard sent her a text message asking her to come home immediately because of a problem with the baby.
Tatum called Leonard to find out what was wrong with her daughter, but hung up on him when he became "belligerent" with her. She called 911 while driving home to their apartment on Forest City Road, the affidavit states.
Leonard maintains he was asleep in the living room and woke up after hearing two thumps. He went into the master bedroom to check on the child. He claims he found Malloree on the floor beside the bed. When he picked her up she was like "a rag doll," according to the affidavit.
Instead of calling 911, he sent a text message to Tatum and then told a neighbor the girl had fallen from the bed, records show.
During interviews with investigators, Tatum repeatedly said she believed her boyfriend's story about Malloree falling from the bed. A detective noted he believed Tatum was trying to protect her boyfriend and was not being forthcoming.
Two days after Malloree was injured, doctors determined she was brain-dead. On Nov. 20 Malloree was removed from life support and Tatum opted not to be with her daughter when she died, the affidavit states.
Jail records show Leonard has been arrested in the past on robbery and drug charges. Leonard will remain at the Orange County Jail.,0,1203788.story

SBS: Ohio: Jennifer Campbell indicted for murder

By Ally Kraemer :  May 25, 2011

Jennifer M. Campbell was indicted Tuesday for murder and other charges in the death of Ohio State men's lacrosse assistant coach Dave Dobbins' infant daughter, Colleen Dobbins, according to court documents.
Campbell faces one count each of murder, involuntary manslaughter and felonious assault, as well as two counts of child endangerment, according to court documents.
Campbell was served a warrant for her arrest Tuesday at her Columbus residence. Several media reports indicated Campbell turned herself in Tuesday afternoon.
Campbell was arraigned Wednesday afternoon and bond was set at $140,000, according to the Franklin County Clerk of Courts registry. The court ruled she is not to have contact with the Dobbins family or any children, except her own daughter.
As of 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Campbell was still in custody, sheriff deputies at the Franklin County Correction Center confirmed to The Lantern.
There was no answer at a phone number listed under Campbell's name Wednesday evening.
The Franklin County Coroner reported 5-month-old Colleen was taken by ambulance from Campbell's Columbus home March 22 after Campbell reported she was bouncing the crying baby on her knee when Colleen became unresponsive.
The coroner ruled that Colleen suffered a traumatic brain injury and that her death on March 24 was a homicide.
Sgt. Steven Little, of the Columbus Division of Police Homicide Squad, told local media Colleen's injuries are consistent with shaken-baby syndrome.
Little did not immediately return phone calls for comment Wednesday evening.
The Dobbins family donated several of Colleen's organs.
The men's lacrosse players honored the Dobbins family's organ donations by wearing green stripes on their socks during their Showdown in the 'Shoe on April 23.
Representatives from the men's lacrosse program declined to comment.
The Dobbins' attorney, Mark Collins, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday evening.

SBS: New Zealand: Education Program

23 May 2011
Child abuse numbers show New Zealand is tracking towards another year of shame.
Despite the government's pledges to toughen the law, 2011 looks set to break new records of horrific abuse.
Figures obtained by ONE News show police have 6117 active child abuse cases before them. Of those, 2521 have been open for more than a year.
2011 set to be another year of child abuse shame (Source: ONE News)

Last year Child, Youth and Family had more than 124,921 notifications, compared to 50,488 in 2005.
Figures from Starship Children's Hospital show more babies have already been shaken in this financial year than last, with more than a month to go until the year ends.
"When I started working in this area in the late '90s we were seeing two to three children a year with this kind of head injury. Now we're seeing one a month," said Starship Paediatrician Dr Patrick Kelly.
The Ministry of Social Development is pushing its new green paper, which is due out in August and will see at-risk children tracked. It will also make child abuse reporting mandatory .
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said too often she has seen cases where a child has been killed or badly hurt, where two people have been present and one is responsible.
"There is an underbelly of intense violence in our community that is staggering and unanswerable quite frankly," said Bennett.
But Child Abuse Prevention Expert Anthea Simcock said time is running out and the proof will be in the pudding.
Kelly said there is political pressure for the government to do something, but that is not achieving good results.
"People choose the latest good idea or the latest fashion to try and put it into place and three years goes by and another government comes to power and they have another good idea. So there's very little implemented and carried through over time."
From July, a graphic DVD showing the affects of Shaken Baby Syndrome will be shown to mothers who give birth in Auckland.
The DVD includes real stories of some New Zealand families who have shaken their own children.
"It wasn't easy to ask them to do this, because New Zealand is a small community and these are people who live among us, whose families live among us," said Kelly.
A similar education programme in upstate New York saw a reduction of 47% of Shaken Baby Syndrome.

SBS: Virginia: Baby sitter Larisa Mone Thomas guilty of voluntary manslaughter



A woman who shook an infant boy to death in 2009 was ordered yesterday in Spotsylvania County to serve 10 years in prison.
Larisa Mone Thomas, 29, had previously pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and felony child neglect in connection with the death of 3-month-old Elijah Lynch-Hobbs. Thomas was baby-sitting the child.
The sentence handed down by Judge David Beck was apparently more than Thomas' supporters were prepared for.
Some of them wailed and screamed in disbelief after the decision was announced, and one woman slammed a door and stormed out of the courtroom.
Elijah was injured Sept. 8, 2009, in Thomas' bedroom. Thomas told Detective Twyla Demoranville that she shook the child in an attempt to get him to stop crying.
Elijah was taken off life support the next day at VCU Medical Center in Richmond, but prosecutor Kim Hackbarth said the baby was essentially dead shortly after the abuse.
"It was an intentional act that caused this," Hackbarth said. "That's what makes this unconscionable."
According to the evidence, Vanessa Lynch-Hobbs dropped off Elijah and an older brother at Thomas' home on Windridge Drive in Spotsylvania County about 11:30 a.m. that day.
Thomas and Lynch-Hobbs were friends and had known each other about 15 years. Thomas had been caring for the older child for about a year.
About 30 minutes after Lynch-Hobbs left, police got a 911 call from Thomas, who said the baby was not breathing. During the call, Thomas made such statements as "I shouldn't had did this" and "Come on, Elijah baby, I'm so sorry."
Elijah suffered bleeding in the brain and retinal hemorrhaging, and doctors ruled the death shaken baby syndrome.
Testimony yesterday and court records indicate that Thomas, who is married with four children, was an experienced baby-sitter who had a good reputation in her community.
Defense attorney Stuart Sullivan said Thomas is "one of the most unlikely defendants in the history of this county."
Hackbarth conceded that Thomas had been a good person "99 percent of the time. But in this 1 percent she was horrific and it led to the death of a child."
Judge Beck sentenced Thomas to a total of 20 years, the maximum, but suspended 10 years.
Beck acknowledged that Thomas had been of good character most of her life, but said that people who care for children must be held to a higher standard.
Prior to Beck's decision, Thomas made a statement in which she said she never meant to hurt Elijah and hopes the child's family will one day forgive her.

SBS: INDIANA: A Survivor: Family faces struggles as result of dad’s abuse 9 years ago

May 22, 2011 : Laura J. Gardner | The Journal Gazette 
Drake Woodward, 9, plays at Lakeside Park. When he runs, he often re-enacts his favorite video games.
Rebecca S. Green |
Laura J. Gardner | The Journal Gazette
Drake Woodward, 9, is a survivor of a shaken baby case that resulted in his father’s imprisonment. Here, he is with his sisters Landis Embury, 6, left, and Olivia Embury, 4, at Lakeside Park.
Drake Woodward looks like most 9-year-olds, maybe a bit on the slender side.
What you can’t see when you look at the boy with sandy hair, sly smile and glasses, is what he’s been through.
What’s he’s been through is often fatal, and many more children who survive do so only technically, with brains so severely damaged they cannot function.
And what happened to Drake nine years ago takes the life of nearly one child every day across America. But for those who survive, it causes untold damage to developing brains that lead to a lifetime of difficulty.
Drake was once a shaken baby.
In March 2002, 24-year-old Ryan Woodward had care of his 2-month-old son, Drake. At some point, Woodward shook the baby so violently he caused retinal hemorrhages to both Drake’s eyes and brain damage.
Woodward eventually pleaded guilty to a Class C-felony charge of battery and in 2004 was sentenced to five years in prison and his parental rights were terminated. According to the Indiana Department of Correction, he was released in 2008.
When Jackie Embury, 37, obtained custody of Drake from a family member, he could no longer swallow or see. He suffered from cerebral palsy. She had to take him to the doctor every week to have a needle inserted in the soft spot on his head to allow a buildup of fluid to be removed. His brain bled for weeks.
“That just went on forever; … his whole infancy,” Embury said. “He was blind. There was no surgery that could fix it. It was during that summer, four months after it happened, I remember saying, ‘He can see me.’
Everybody was like, ‘Jackie, stop.’ ”
But he could see, something doctors called miraculous.
Embury said there was evidence that Drake was shaken twice as an infant, the first time when he was about 8 weeks old and then again at 10 weeks.
“It’s oftentimes hard to prove who did it,” said Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards, who did not prosecute Drake’s abuser.
“You can prove something happened, … but children come into contact with so many people during the day,” she said.
In Drake’s case, the second shaking drew the criminal charges. No one was ever identified as having committed the initial act, though a scan of the baby’s brain confirmed the earlier injury.
“Once the damage is a couple of days old, they can’t pinpoint what time or what day,” Embury said.
When she heard what happened, Embury stepped in, not wanting Drake to enter the child welfare system.
Doctors told her he’d likely never regain his sight. Children with brain trauma like that don’t survive.
When it became clear he would survive, they told her she was in for a lifetime of heartache in caring for this baby who would grow up with special needs, many yet unknown.
“Back then, I used to say, ‘You’re full of (expletive),’ ” Embury said of her conversations with the doctors. “But the older he gets, the more you realize what it is. I guess it was denial.”
Lifetime of issues
Injuries such as those suffered by Drake were long characterized by the medical community as “shaken baby syndrome.”
But such a term is remarkably imprecise and therefore unacceptable in a community where precision is needed, said Dr. Antoinette Laskey, a forensic pediatrician with Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.
While the term “shaken baby syndrome” is still used to communicate with the public because it is the phrase with which most people are familiar, to doctors and medical personnel, the term now is “abusive head trauma.”
The term is more inclusive and precise.
“This kind of injury is something that ends up in the judicial process,” Laskey said.
The term also includes injuries that are inflicted in other ways, such as striking a child in the head.
Head injuries, such as in Drake’s case, can have a cumulative effect.
Head trauma builds upon head trauma and how the child is affected will not be known for years.
It did not have to be that way, Laskey said. In these cases, there is a distinct “before” and “after.”
“They woke up that morning normal, and now they’re going to have deal with this the rest of their lives,” Laskey said. “We have kids who were normal kids who were irreparably damaged by someone else’s lack of impulse control. … Someone changed the course of that child’s life at that point they lost their temper.”
When looking at the trajectory of kids who don’t die, we’re looking at the beginning of their issues, Laskey said.
And the issues will last a lifetime.
“We always tell families, foster families, the system, they look OK now, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to look OK five years from now,” Laskey said.
The full effects are not known until more is required of the child, she said.
Life gets harder
That’s how it’s been for Drake, Embury said.
With each grade, school gets a little harder. There’s more information to retain. He has to pay attention for longer periods of time and remember lessons his brain can’t seem to hold onto.
“He gets frustrated really easy,” Embury said. “School is really hard for him now. He can’t keep up with second grade.”
If you ask him what his favorite subject is, he’ll say “going outside.”
When he is outside, he plays and he runs, often re-enacting scenes from his favorite video games.
Embury said Drake loves to play sports, but soccer is a bit easier for him than basketball. Riding a bike has not been mastered yet, but he has a scooter.
Drake gets help from special education teachers and can’t do the same homework his classmates are doing.
“I’ve instilled in my kids since the day they were born they were going to go to college,” Embury said. “With Drake, I don’t know. I’m just hoping that Drake can get a diploma. That’s the goal.”
The frustration, and the brain trauma itself, leaves him prone to anger. He’s loving but quick to lash out, Embury said.
He has impulse-control issues and his behavior often seems like that of a younger child, she said.
Because of the cerebral palsy, which is not noticeable unless he is tired or stressed, his coordination is poor. He frequently takes hard falls, walks into sharp corners and generally bangs himself up. If you rustle his hair, Embury said, you’ll see a scalp lined with scars from many staples and stitches.
“He’s tough,” she said. “He has no fear.”
‘I’m still angry’
Embury is obviously angry about what happened to Drake. And she’s angry at the man who injured him and could probably see herself inflicting a similar injury on him if given the opportunity.
“It’s been nine years in March, and I’m still angry,” she said. “I get better. But when I see the neighbor kid who’s 9 years old crossing the street by himself and … I have to stop and think wait, he’s normal. He’s not Drake.”
Parents have to be careful about with whom they leave their children. Such injuries are entirely preventable, Prosecutor Richards said.
Richards said she frequently sees cases in which a single mother leaves her baby in the care of a young father, with little to no parenting skills and a short fuse.
“They lose their temper and shake the child,” she said.
Locally, SCAN (Stop Child Abuse and Neglect) works to educate parents about the dangers of all types of abuse and how to find ways to cope with the stress of parenting.
But sometimes the damage done to children in shaken baby cases is caused by the family members or friends with whom SCAN did not have contact, said Jennifer Boen, SCAN spokeswoman.
One difficulty in educating parents about shaken baby cases, borne out by literature analyzing the confessions of abusers, is that shaking a baby works initially, Laskey said.
That’s because the initial concussive event makes the child go quiet, she said.
Boen agreed.
“In many cases, the brain has already started to swell,” Boen said. “The next time you may do it a little stronger. Parents say, ‘Wow, the baby went to sleep.’ ”
All seem to agree: Education is key, even if it has been repeated over and over again.
“We really have to do a better job of educating parents that crying is normal,” Laskey said. “Walking away from a crying baby is not a bad thing. Shaking a baby is something you can’t take back.”
There is no undoing what happened to Drake. He’s come so far, though.
“He’s beat all the odds. Drake was supposed to die,” Embury said. “He did die, and they brought him back.”

SBS: New York City: Luis Fernandez charged with murder

 May 26, 2011
A Manhattan man was charged with murder after allegedly shaking his 6-month-old nephew.
The lifeless body of little Alex-José Fernandez was found Tuesday by cops who had responded to a 911 call at his family's home on Second Avenue near East 26th Street.
The child was being watched by his uncle Luis Melendez, 33, cops said.
A spokeswoman for the Medical Examiner's Office said autopsy results were inconclusive, but a police source said the injuries were consistent with shaken-baby syndrome.
Melendez, who lives in the apartment with the baby's mother, was arrested yesterday and charged with murder, reckless assault of a child and endangering the welfare of a child.
Melendez had two prior arrests -- one for reckless endangerment in 2003 and another for sex abuse in 1999.

SBS: New York City: Saul Cortez guilty 2nd degree manslaughter

May 23 2011
NEW YORK — A man who repeatedly shook and punched his crying baby faces a prison sentence for manslaughter.
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced a plea Monday by Saul Cortez.
Eight-month-old Mario was diagnosed with Shaken Baby Syndrome. Among other things, tests found the little boy suffered from brain injury, a lacerated liver, and rib fractures.
At the time of the fatal incident, on April 5, Cortez also had responsibility for his 2-year-old daughter.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard L. Butcher indicated that he would sentence Cortez to 18 years in prison on June 6.
Cortez pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault.

SBS: New Zealand: Diagnosis Questions

20 May 2011,
A single firm shake has long been thought to be able to cause serious damage to a baby's brain. But an article published in the Journal of Primary Health Care (JPHC) suggests it might not be so clear cut, and that babies thought to have died because of being shaken may have actually died from other causes.
Both sides of the debate are presented. Dr Lucy B Rorke-Adams, who holds numerous neuropathology posts and is the Clinical Professor of Pathology, Neurology and Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, suggests that shaking is indeed why the babies have died.
She points out that there is a "high frequency of association between the [three features that indicate central nervous system trauma] and shaken impact syndrome" before moving on to demonstrate the flaws in possible alternate explanations.
She backs up her argument with reference to the body of knowledge about shaken baby syndrome that has built up over the years.
"The scientific base for shaken impact syndrome has accumulated over a period of at least 150 years, although sporadic writings of physicians, anatomists and writers commenting about effects of CNS trauma, in particular concussion, appeared long before that time."
Dr Rorke-Adams finishes her discussion with a warning that "Those who offer untested hypotheses to defend individuals who have harmed infants do considerable disservice to science and to the victims."

On the other side of the debate is Consultant Paediatric Neuropathologist Dr Waney Squier, from the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, UK.
While stating that "We can all agree that it is never safe to shake a baby", she also points out three major arguments against the shaken baby hypothesis.
In the first, Dr Squier states that, "In nearly 40 years [since the syndrome was recognised], no one has ever witnessed shaking to cause the collapse of a well baby."
Dr Squier describes the second argument as appealing to common sense. Violent shaking would cause neck injuries, which are seldom seen.
A third argument is more complex. To paraphrase Dr Squier, shaking a baby would not cause one of the symptoms seen in shaken baby syndrome. The symptom is "thin-film subdural bleeding"; shaking a baby may well cause bleeding, but because of the anatomy of the central nervous system, it would have a very different pattern.
Like Dr Rorke-Adams, Dr Squier also finishes with a warning.
"Failure to look beyond the simplistic and increasingly untenable shaking hypothesis risks incalculable damage by wrongfully removing children from loving parents or incarcerating innocent people.
"Further, by focusing on shaking or inflicted trauma to the exclusion of accidental and natural causes, we are almost certainly missing opportunities to save babies through prevention, early diagnosis and treatment."

Journal Editor Professor Felicity Goodyear-Smith says, "Both failure to act in cases of genuine child abuse, and unnecessarily separating children from their parents do irrevocable harm, so this is an important debate that needs to be had."

Both sides of the debate can be found in the June 2011 issue of the JPHC, which is a scientific journal published by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners

Sunday, 29 May 2011

SBS: Ohio: Murder indictment returned against Jennifer Campbell (sitter) in death of baby


Five-month-old Colleen Dobbins suffered injuries consistent with shaken-baby syndrome, a Columbus police sergeant said.
Five-month-old Colleen Dobbins suffered injuries consistent with shaken-baby syndrome, a Columbus police sergeant said.
A 29-year-old baby sitter was indicted on a charge of murder yesterday in the death of the 5-month-old daughter of an Ohio State lacrosse coach.
Jennifer M. Campbell also faces one count each of involuntary manslaughter and felonious assault and two counts of child endangering.
The child, Colleen Dobbins, died March 23 after she was taken to Nationwide Children's Hospital from Campbell's apartment, police said.
Franklin County Coroner Jan Gorniak ruled the case a homicide, saying an autopsy determined the baby died of a traumatic brain injury. A Columbus police homicide sergeant said Colleen sustained a retinal hemorrhage that was consistent with shaken-baby syndrome.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

SIDS: Film on Doctor Southall and Munchausen by Proxy

Cutting Edge: A Very Dangerous Doctor (Channel 4) was more of a moral minefield, though that's not how any of those featured in the programme saw it. In the late 1980s and early 90s Professor David Southall, a paediatrician specialising in sudden infant death syndrome, became convinced that many cot deaths were actually cases of homicide caused by parents suffering from Munchausen syndrome by proxy. His research was widely accepted within the medical profession and as a result of his evidence more than 30 parents were prosecuted and many more had their children placed in care.
Then the backlash started. People began to question Southall's research methodology and the courts and social services started to find in favour of the parents he had accused of endangering their children. Southall remains adamant that everyone he accused was definitely guilty, despite his being suspended, struck off and reinstated over the years, while a parents' collective maintains his guilt and has continued its efforts to expose him as a fraud who destroyed their lives.
Leo Regan's latest film was unusual in giving equal airtime to both parties and it avoided reaching any definite conclusions. Mainly because there were none to be reached. My own gut feeling was that not all of the parents could possibly have done what Southall claimed, but equally it did not seem credible that Southall could have been such a danger as some thought. But neither party was prepared to contemplate this scenario and the message that shone through in the end wasn't the rights and wrongs of the medical issues but how 20 years of litigation narrows the mind and corrupts the soul

SBS: New York State: Lois Saitta pleads to 2nd degree manslaughter

May 10, 2011
MINEOLA, NY – Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced today that an Oceanside woman has pleaded guilty to manslaughter after shaking her two-year-old adopted son to death in July 2009.
Lois Saitta, 51, pleaded guilty to Manslaughter in the Second Degree, the top count against her, in exchange for a promised sentence of one year in jail and five years probation from Nassau County Judge David Sullivan. Saitta must serve the entirety of her prison term.
Rice said that at approximately 10 a.m. on July 20, 2009, Saitta was feeding her 27-month-old son at her Soper Street home when she placed a 911 call stating that the baby had fallen and was not responsive. A medical examination revealed injuries indicative of Shaken Baby Syndrome.
The boy’s brain swelled so much that a piece of his skull had to be removed. The child never regained consciousness and died August 12, 2009. Saitta and her husband had adopted the boy six months earlier from Guatemala.
The medical examiner concluded that the manner of death was Shaken Baby Syndrome and ruled the death a homicide. Saitta was arrested on April 14, 2010.
“Ms. Saitta had a duty to care for and protect her adopted son, but instead she violently shook her child to death,” Rice said. “Shaken Baby Syndrome is a leading cause of child abuse deaths, and its victims are tiny and defenseless.”
Assistant District Attorney Silvia Finkelstein of the Special Victims Bureau is prosecuting the case for the DA’s Office. Saitta is represented by Kevin Keating., Esq.

SBS: West Virginia: Michael Fannin accused

May 14, 2011
HUNTINGTON -- The case against 41-year-old Michael Fannin, who is accused in the shaking death of 4-month old Emma Beatty, was bound over to the grand jury by Cabell County Magistrate Dan Goheen Friday.
The criminal complaint stated that Emma Beatty, who was born in January, was hospitalized with severe head trauma and other life-threatening injuries two weeks ago at Cabell Huntington Hospital. She died threedays later.
The criminal complaint stated Melissa Beatty, the girl's mother, said she left her daughter in the care of Fannin at his Marcum Terrace apartment when she went to work at 6:30 a.m. Friday.
Beatty said Fannin contacted her at 8:30 a.m., saying he had dropped Emma on the couch after a screen door slammed and startled them, the complaint said. Beatty said Fannin told her Emma hadn't been "acting right" since the fall, and she was transported to St. Mary's Medical Center before being transferred to the PICU at Cabell Huntington, which is when authorities stepped in, according to the complaint.
Trooper W.G. Hash of the West Virginia State Police and a doctor from Cabell Huntington Hospital testified in Friday's preliminary hearing. Hash testified that Fannin's story had changed, while the doctor said the baby's brain injuries were consistent shaken baby syndrome.
Fannin is charged with felony child abuse by a parent, guardian or custodian leading to death. He remains held on $1 million cash bond.

SBS: Indiana: Tiquila Turner charged

May 15, 2011
The baby boy was 7 months old when he suffered a fractured skull and 30 hemorrhages -- in each eye.
Now 2, little Keron is blind, deaf and eats and drinks through a feeding tube.
Keron "will generally in the future have trouble speaking and being understood," doctors wrote in Department of Children's Services case records.
The child's mother, Tiquila Turner, faces Class B felony neglect charges that could put her behind bars for six to 20 years.
Turner, 26, of South Bend, declined to comment on the charges.
Prosecutors charged that Turner "did knowingly place (Keron) ... in a situation endangering his life or health: by shaking (Keron) and by failing to get (Keron) medical care after he had been dropped."
Doctors diagnosed Keron with Shaken Infant Syndrome and strongly suggested that the little boy may be permanently brain-damaged as a result of severe physical abuse.
Because the case is pending, St. Joseph County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Ken Cotter is ethically precluded from discussing Turner's charges.
"Keron has very specific medical needs that need to be attended to and therapy that needs to continue," the DCS recommended. "He had made very slight improvements but will probably need extended medical care due to the severe abuse that he has suffered."
Turner's attorney, Jeffrey Sanford, did not return multiple phone calls left at his South Bend office over the course of one week seeking comment on the charges.
Keron's father says his son is "broken."
"I'm not sure how much he can see. I'm not sure how much he can hear," Camerin Jones said. "Basically he's brain dead.
"He's a broken baby."
Jones compares his son's case to the case of Natalia Benson, the little girl who was violently abused and shaken by her mother when she was 3 months old.
Natalia was legally blind, unaware of who she was or where she was, attached to a feeding tube as a result of injuries that ravaged her nervous system until she died March 25 at a Carmel, Ind., hospital at the age of 5.
Her mother, Barbara Schrock, was found guilty at trial in 2009 of felony battery and sentenced to 13 years in prison.
"At trial, there was no question that Barbara Schrock was the individual who had caused all of the injuries (to Natalia)," said Ken Cotter, who prosecuted the case.
"Based on the timeline of injuries," the chief deputy prosecutor added, "it couldn't have been anybody else, including the father, because the father worked 16-hour days."
Hamilton County Coroner Thurl Cecil has since ruled Natalia's death a homicide. Prosecutors are weighing potential murder charges against Schrock that could keep her in prison for the rest of her life.
Keron was 9 months old when he was hospitalized on June 22, 2009, with what appeared to be a severe head injury, according to court documents.,0,312451.story

SBS: New Jersey: Jonathon Kuzminski death

May 14, 2011 : By KATE KOWSH
A 20-month-old Bayonne boy died yesterday of "severe brain hemorrhaging," and Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said his office is investigating whether the death was the result of child abuse.
Jonathon Kuzminski was taken by ambulance to Bayonne Medical Center Monday night, DeFazio said.
A source with knowledge of the case said the child's mother, Crystal Acevedo, returned home from work and noticed the toddler was breathing abnormally and had a facial droop, and called the ambulance.
The source said Acevedo's female roommate had been watching the child and said that he fell and hit his chin on the bathtub.
DeFazio did not provide any details of how the child was injured.
Young Jonathon was later transferred to St. Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick, where he underwent brain surgery, the source said. Doctors say the child's injuries resulted from shaken baby syndrome or blunt force trauma, according to the source.
"Preliminarily, it appears there were traumatic brain injuries," DeFazio said. "We're still awaiting the cause and manner of death."
Currently, the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office Homicide Squad is investigating the case, but no one has been arrested or is being held, according to DeFazio.
Acevedo, a North Bergen High School graduate, was too upset to be interviewed last night.
St. Peter's Hospital officials did not return calls for information.
The State Regional Medical Examiner will perform an autopsy today to determine the cause of death, DeFazio said, adding that he may have the results as early as today.

SBS: Michigan: State takes children away from Iraqi American parents (Al-Nawami)

Jessica Barrow:
DEARBORN — There are certain types of children who are at high risk for abuse and neglect: children of drug-addicted parents, children of parents who have themselves been abused, and children of parents who have some sort of mental disorder.Nowhere on this list created by the American Academy for Family Physicians is being Arab American or Muslim. But these are the reasons that Zainab Al-Nawami believes her two children, ages four and one, were taken from her and her husband after her daughter Rouqaya, 2, died March 26, 2010, from what doctors have since determined was a virus in a child with compromised liver function who had received four vaccines all at once from their family pediatrician three days earlier even though the child was obviously ill at the time.According to Al-Nawami, Rouqaya had been sick on March 23, 2010, and they took her to her pediatrician, Dr. Basel Khatib, for a check-up."She had a fever and diarrhea and she wasn't well. Her father took her," Al-Nawami said.  According to Khatib's office notes that day, he performed a very cursory examination that included crossing off two lists of individual symptoms that should have been checked before vaccination administration with two strokes of the pen. Then he proceeded to administer four vaccines.
The father returned home with the child and she appeared no better.  At one point through her crying she asked for a bottle. Her father laid her down on the sofa in the dining room within sight of Zainab, who went into the adjoining kitchen to prepare the bottle. The father, Munther Al-Rubea, said he was going to a neighbor's home to visit someone who had come in from overseas.  Before he got very far away from the house, he heard Zainab scream for him to come back. "Suddenly Rouqaya had started making strange, choking-like sounds," Zainab tearfully recalls. "I turned in time to see her fall from the couch. I ran to check on her and her eyes were rolling back." She called 911 and the ambulance took Rouqaya to Oakwood Hospital.  Her father went with her. The doctors asked Munther whether Rouqaya had pneumonia. Apparently she did but the pediatrician hadn't told him this. Tests at Oakwood Hospital revealed a brain bleed. Rouqaya was transferred to Children's Hospital in Detroit, where she had surgery to relieve the immense pressure on her brain. She never regained consciousness and remained on life support until March 26, when she died.
Both at Oakwood and Children's hospitals, physical abuse of the child was suspected. The massive brain damage was not consistent with a fall from a sofa. First considered was Shaken Baby Syndrome.  The Dearborn Police Department was called and arrived before Zainab had had time to get to Children's where she learned her daughter had been taken.  The couples' other two children were taken by Children's Protective Services. The parents were overwhelmed with what was happening to their daughter.
"We had no idea what was going on. I don't speak English well and my husband almost speaks none," Zubaida said.
At autopsy, Assistant Wayne County Medical Examiner Dr. Francisco Diaz classified the death as a homicide, although there was no evidence of abuse. The child didn't have neck injuries that would be consistent with SOS, nor any external signs of trauma and no scalp fractures that would have accompanied trauma to the head.
Immediately upon Rouqaya's death, social worker Nashoose McCants called a Team Decision Making Meeting, where what to do about the family's other children was discussed. Their notes state that "neither parent was available," as though the parents were not interested in attending, the reality being that they had just lost a daughter and were otherwise consumed with the crisis.
When they did get to a hearing, they thought they were attending to get their children back, but when they arrived, they discovered it was a termination hearing.
Although neither parent has been charged with anything, hearings drone on at the Lincoln Hall of Justice at a snail's pace. It has now been one year and two months since Zainab and Munther lost their three children.  Thankfully, the other two children, Fatima, 4 and Sukana,1, are staying with Zainab's mother, who lives not far from the apartment where Zainab and Munther now live, not being able to bear staying in the same house where their daughter died. Zainab is allowed to be with her children during the day but cannot spend the night with them.
In the interim, Washtenaw County Medical Examiner Dr. Bader Cassin, has testified in the hearings that trauma could not have produced the amount and type of brain damage that caused Rouqaya's death.  He said the child's injuries were consistent with a virus. Dr. Diaz admitted that the brain was so damaged that it took two weeks for them to prepare it for testing. This also is not consistent with SBS.
Dr. Cassin said he found evidence of a virus in the child's brain and also a damaged liver, which could have accounted for the bleeding in the brain. "The first doctor, Dr. Diaz, didn't mention any of this and Dr. Cassin said he should have seen it," Zainab said. " It was there in her blood tests.  Cassin said that the vaccines Rouqaya got could also have caused the bleeding in her brain."
Perhaps even more significantly, telephone testimony from a Dr. Harold E. Buttram in Pennsylvania revealed five reasons why the injuries sustained by Rouqaya were not inflicted. He said that Shaken Baby Syndrome has been discredited by bioengineers working for the auto industry.  To inflict the amount of trauma that would cause cerebral hemorrhage would sever neck muscles and bones first. Secondly he said there was no significant surface head injury either in external bruising or internal scalp hemorrhages  that one would expect to see in inflicted trauma. Thirdly, he noted that the child had blood tests which showed a prolonged bleeding time and evidence of liver dysfunction. Had the appropriate tests been done at autopsy, he said, they would have confirmed that the child died of a bleeding disorder. He further attributed the liver dysfunction to inappropriate care by the child's pediatrician, who for one thing never dose-adjusted her vaccines to allow for the fact that she was a premature birth.  Fourthly he said that children's vaccines can and frequently do cause brain hemorrhages. And finally, large studies have proven that vaccines should never be given to ill children, as was done in this case.
Rehab Amer, who went through a similar travesty of justice with the state's foster care system 25 years ago, has been accompanying the parents to court. "Dr. Bader Cassin testified that the death should not be classified a homicide because there is no evidence of inflicted trauma or abuse on this child," Amer said. "There is evidence that this child was ill and was given a vaccination or she might have a liver disease. Wayne County Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Diaz didn't do the proper tests to prove the real cause of the death."
The Amer Act was passed into state law last year after the Amers had their children unlawfully removed from their custody after the accidental death of her son Samier. For Amer, Al-Nawami’s case is reminiscent of her own.
"They are doing to her the same thing they did to me," Rehab said.  "Al-Nawami was offered the chance have her children returned, if she were to  plead guilty in the case of her daughter's death."
"They medical examiners said there was no evidence of abuse," Amer said. "So why are her children not with her? Why are they targeting her? It's like the Department of Human Services aren't concerned about what is best for the kids, but they are more concerned about proving themselves right. They are ignoring the evidence."
"My rights are being terminated before the trial is over. I don't understand it," Al-Nawami said, her young face full of sorrow. "My two daughters are staying with my mother. I can see them during the day, but I have to go home and sleep at night. I can't sleep near them.”
A hearing is scheduled May 19 at 1:30 pm in the chambers of Judge Jerome Cavanaugh at Wayne County 3rd Circuit Court.

SBS: Virginia: Paul Sanlan Farthing pleads to second degree manslaughter

Ronica Shannon
RICHMOND — A man originally charged with murder in the death of his infant daughter received a 10-year sentence Thursday after pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter.
Madison Circuit Judge Jeanne C. Logue imposed the maximum sentence for the reduced charge.
Paul Sanlan Farthing Jr. was arrested April 14, 2010, after his 3-month-old daughter, Rylee Jean Campbell, died at the University of Kentucky Medical Center, from what doctors there said was shaken-baby syndrome. She had been in the care of her father prior to her injuries.
Farthing could have faced 20 to 50 years to life in prison if convicted of murder, but the charge of second-degree manslaughter is a Class C felony punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison.
“You can say manslaughter, but she was murdered,” said Rylee’s grandmother Jean Williamson after Farthing’s sentencing. “Rylee was alive for three months, four days and one hour. My goal is to make sure that he does 10 years for the life of a baby that never got to crawl, roll over or sit up.”
Rylee’s mother, Ashley Campbell, said she was not happy with the sentence, but “.. at least he is going to have to spend time in jail. I wish he got life (in prison), but 10 years is better than nothing at all. It doesn’t bring my daughter back. It doesn’t change nothing. We just have to try and move past it.”
Campbell began to weep as she recalled a recent stroll she took with a friend and the friend’s daughter who is one month older than Rylee would be.
“I said, ‘My daughter should be here with us.’”
Farthing’s attorney, Jim Baechtold, said Wednesday that he will seek shock probation for his client.
“We have between 30 and 180 days to ask for shock probation,” he said. “The purpose of shock probation is to shock a first-time felon into compliance with the law. He’s already served 394 days in custody and will be eligible for parole in approximately 24 months. We’re going to ask for probation.”
Baechtold referred to Rylee’s death as “... a bad accident that rose to the level of recklessness. I find it interesting that the first hospital the child went to released her from their care after performing a head X-ray. In no way were Mr. Farthing’s actions intentional.”
Kentucky State Police Troopers from Post 7 in Richmond and investigators from the state Department for Community Based Services responded April 11, 2010, to a report of a 3-month-old girl being assaulted by her father at a home on Meadowlark Drive in Richmond, according to a KSP press release issued after Farthing’s arrest.
Farthing’s mother, Shirley Farthing, said in an earlier Richmond Register interview that her son was giving the baby a bath in the sink when the incident occurred.
When Paul Farthing turned to reach for a bath towel, his mother said, the child slipped under the water. Shirley Farthing said her son then lifted the child up, accidentally hitting her head on the faucet.
“She didn’t look like she was breathing, so he shook her,” Shirley Farthing said.
The infant first was taken to Saint Joseph-Berea hospital, Shirley Farthing said, where she was diagnosed with head trauma and later released.
The child’s mother brought the baby back to the hospital when Campbell continued to show signs of distress, Shirley Farthing said. She then was diagnosed with shaken-baby syndrome and transported to UK, where she died of her injuries.
Farthing was indicted for murder in June, 2010, by a Madison grand jury.
Farthing caused the child “to suffer traumatic brain injuries which resulted in her death,” the indictment read.

SBS: Virginia: Christian Letreal Wallace sentenced



A man who caused permanent brain damage by violently shaking his then 6-week-old daughter was ordered yesterday to serve 20 years in prison.
Christian Letreal Wallace, who will turn 23 on Sunday, was sentenced in Stafford Circuit Court to a total of 40 years with 20 years suspended.
Wallace previously pleaded guilty to aggravated malicious wounding and child neglect.
The child, Laticia Nicole Wallace, was critically injured on Aug. 27, 2009, at the hands of her father. She was diagnosed with Shaken Baby Syndrome.
According to doctors and witnesses who testified yesterday, she cannot eat on her own, will never walk or talk and has a short life expectancy.
Laticia, who will turn 2 on July 5, is also on numerous medications and has seizures daily.
Judge J. Martin Bass went above the state sentencing guidelines, which called for a maximum active sentence of 11 years and four months.
Bass cited the "heinous conduct" of Wallace and the devastating impact it had on the child in deciding to exceed the guidelines.
But Bass did not exceed the penalty requested by prosecutor Eric Olsen, who asked the judge to give Wallace a life sentence.
"He all but ended the life of this child," Olsen said. "Laticia will never be free and neither should he."
According to the prosecution's evidence, Jessica Kissling, the baby's mother, returned to work on Aug. 27, 2009, and left the baby alone with Wallace for the first time. The baby was perfectly healthy at the time, Olsen said.
Marcus Kissling, the baby's grandfather, said he came home that night and found Wallace standing over the obviously distressed child, claiming he'd found her like that.
The grandfather called 911, and the baby was flown to the VCU Medical Center. About a week later, the family was told that the child probably would not live.
But the child did survive and is now being cared for by her mother and maternal grandparents. Olsen said the child needs round-the-clock care.
"I cannot put into words the daily heartache and sorrow that my family and I endure," Susan Kissling, the child's grandmother, wrote in a letter to the judge.
"I love Laticia very much and I am heartbroken when I look at her knowing that she will never have a normal life her life has been stolen from her and my family's life has been changed forever."
Wallace's family members who testified on his behalf yesterday described him as a loving father. Wallace has not said what caused him to hurt the baby, and his family members said they haven't asked him.
Wallace yesterday said he was sorry about what happened and that "I loved Laticia with all my heart."

SBS: OHIO: John Jones sentenced

Dave Nethers  May 12, 2011
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Patricia Cosgrove on Thursday sentenced John Jones to 15 years to life in prison for the murder of his five-month-old daughter, Jada Ruiz.
Jones, 18, was convicted by a jury after a week long trial in which they heard expert testimony that the child suffered irreversable brain damage and fractures.
Prosecutors said the fatal injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome, and that Jones inflicted them while he was watching the infant in March 2010.
Jones' attorneys on Thursday initially asked Judge Cosgrove for a new trial, arguing that the guilty verdict was "not sustained by sufficient evidence."
Judge Cosgove denied the motion saying "this trial involved medical testimony regarding numerous fractures to Jada Ruiz Jones, bilateral hemmhorages behind her eyes, she had bi-lateral breakage of the bones."
"From the time this child was born, until she died, quite frankly, her life must have been a living hell. She must have been in pain every day," the judge continued.
During trial, defense attorneys questioned whether the baby's mother, Deja Ruiz, could have been responsible for Jada's death, inflicting the injuries before she left the home more than an hour before Jones called for help.
At sentencing, Judge Cosgrove rejected that argument.
"It is impossible, according to medical testimony and according to common sense, that you can sustain these life threatening injuries causing the baby to be unresponsive, not breathing, have no pulse, when EMS arrived...and according to some testimony presented by the defense, that the baby had been in that state for an hour," Cosgrove concluded
When asked to give a statement for himself on Thursday, Jones told the court "I didn't do nothing wrong, and that's the honest to God truth. And whether you believe me or not, I shouldn't be the one standing here."
Throughout the sentencing, Deja Ruiz sat quietly in the back of the courtroom surrounded by family and friends.
Her mother, JoNetta Ruiz, attempted to read a victim impact statement she had written but was too emotional. The statement was read instead by a victim advocate.
After sentencing, JoNetta Ruiz told Fox 8 News that all she really wanted to hear in court from Jones was an apology.
"I prayed for an apology, we asked for forgiveness but it never came out of his mouth," Ruiz said.
For several months after the injury, Jada Ruiz was kept alive on life support while her father and mother battled over whether or not it should be discontinued.
Jones had already been charged with felonious assault. Attorneys for Deja Ruiz argued that Jones did not want the infant to remain on life support for her own well being, but because he knew if she died he could be charged with murder.
In July, a judge ruled the life support should be discontinued.
JoNetta Ruiz said after sentencing that the four months during which it became clear the baby was unable to recover were difficult.
"It was hard," she said. "To have to see her every day like that, it's a hurting feeling, especially when you know that conditions were getting worse they were not getting better."
"It was just too much to handle. I feel deep in my heart that we made the right decision as a family for Jada," JoNetta said.
Jones, who was 17 at the time of Jada's death, was initially charged as a juvenile.
Prosecutor Teri Burnside said on Thursday that trying him for the murder as an adult was the right thing to do.
"As I told the jury in closing arguments, this is a sad situation all the way around," Burnside told Fox 8 News after sentencing. "But thankfully, the jury came back and gave Jada, that little baby, some justice."
The sentence means Jones will not be eligible for parole until after he spends at least 15 years in prison, with credit for the 14 months he has already served.
After that, it is still possible he could spend the rest of his life in prison.
His grandmother, Christine Billings, was also in court for the sentencing. She told Fox 8 News afterward that she still believes in her grandson and his innocence.
"We are going to appeal to the highest court in this land, until someone can tell me that my grandson is not innocent, somebody can prove to me that my grandson is guilty, and no one had proven it yet," said Billings

SBS: "Water filled brain cysts" are not necessarily significant

12 May 2011 Andy Coghlan
WATER-FILLED cysts in the brain of a dead baby should not be taken as proof that the infant has been shaken to death. New findings show that cysts are also found in babies known to have died of innocent causes.
If the brain is starved of oxygen - because of a breathing problem or a blood clot caused by trauma, for example - it will swell up. A study of swollen brains in 20 babies who died aged 5 months or less showed that the longer they had survived before dying, the more likely they were to develop water-filled cysts between the cerebral cortex and the inner regions of the brain.
"While these cysts may be seen as a consequence of trauma, they do not appear to be due to mechanical tissue disruption, and may occur after brain swelling from any cause," says Waney Squier at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, UK Squier's team suggests that the cysts arise because the brains of young babies have yet to fully develop the plumbing needed to drain excess fluid.
The paper is the latest to cast doubt on post-mortem evidence that has till now been taken to show that abuse has taken place. Last year, evidence emerged to challenge the use of the "triad"Movie Camera - the combination of brain swelling, and bleeding on the surface of the brain and at the back of the eyes - as evidence in such cases.
In January the Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales issued new guidelines stating that the triad would no longer be sufficient to show that a dead infant had suffered "shaken baby syndrome". As well as requiring additional evidence of possible abuse before a prosecution is started, the guidelines also rename "shaken baby syndrome" as "non-accidental head injury".
"Squier has shown that sub-cortical fluid collections are not [always] the result of primary trauma to the cortex," says Julie Mack, a pathologist studying infant brain injury at Pennsylvania State Hershey Medical Center.
One prominent radiologist in the UK who preferred not to be named says he agrees that the cysts can have innocent causes. But he questions the validity of the new study, adding that he seldom sees evidence of cysts in MRI scans of living infants with swollen brains.

AHT: New Zealand: Serenity Jay Scott-Dinningham died in Auckland's Starship Hospital last month

19 May 2011
Police investigating the violent death of a six-month-old baby in Ngaruawahia, north of Hamilton, last month have gone back to the public for more help.
Serenity Jay Scott-Dinningham died in Auckland's Starship Hospital last month.
Police said her fatal head injuries were not accidental and medical staff later told relatives the injuries were similar to shaken-baby syndrome.
The homicide team working on the baby's death was being helped by members of the community, Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Greene, of Waikato police, said.
Police were still awaiting the results of forensic tests done during Serenity's post-mortem to give them a better picture of what had happened.
A public campaign for information was launched today, with CrimeStoppers pamphlets distributed by NZ Post to every house, business and community group in Ngaruawahia.
Mr Greene said he preferred to speak to someone face to face but sometimes that was not possible and the anonymity of CrimeStoppers was great.
"We want to know what you know, not who you are."

SBS: VanHoutan faces more charges after shaken baby dies

Joshua Allen VanHoutan (Courtesy of Anoka County Jail.)
A baby girl died Sunday night at Children's Hospital in Minneapolis, several days after she was shaken so violently that she went into cardiac arrest. Her father, Joshua Allen VanHoutan, 25, of Coon Rapids, whom authorities accused of injuring her, was initially arraigned Friday for assault and malicious punishment of a child. He could face more serious charges. He remains in custody at the Anoka County Jail. The baby girl, identified as AKV in a criminal complaint against VanHoutan, had been admitted to Mercy Hospital on Wednesday with retinal hemorrhaging and bleeding on the brain - injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome. "It is probably one of the most preventable forms of child abuse," said Amy Wicks, spokeswoman for the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome. "It's not typical abusers. It's people who react poorly to the stresses of caring for an infant." Simply telling new parents not to shake their babies is an ineffective tactic, Wicks said, because most would never do so on purpose. But when a healthy, normal 2-month-old can cry for up to five hours a day, some parents reach the end of their patience, Wicks said. New education tactics include telling parents so much crying is normal - and wanting to get away from the stress is all right. "If you reach your breaking point, it's OK to put your child down in a safe place and walk away for a few minutes," she said. "Doing that doesn't mean that you've failed or that it's a sign of weakness. It's just being able to cope with it in a productive way." Wicks said there is no central reporting registry for shaken baby cases, but estimates from states where statistics have been collected show that nationwide up to 300 children die each year from being shaken. Another 900 to 1,100 are injured and left with varying degrees of disabilities, including shortened life expectancy and loss of cognitive and motor skills. "And some do remarkably well after," Wicks said. According to a criminal complaint filed last week in Anoka County District Court, the baby's mother, Tina Ginter, told police the baby had been sleeping in the Coon Rapids home she shared with VanHoutan and their two other children - including AKV's twin - when Ginter left for work about 4 a.m. At about 9 a.m., she got a call from VanHoutan saying "something was wrong," she told investigators. VanHoutan called again an hour later to say the baby would not wake up and that "her arms would flail," the complaint said. Ginter left work and took the baby to Mercy Hospital at about 12:30 p.m. She was transferred to Children's and underwent surgery to relieve pressure on her brain. "Doctors advised that AKV's injuries could be fatal," the complaint said. Investigators questioned VanHoutan. He initially said the baby was crying "a little bit," according to the complaint, so he set her down to sleep some more. About two hours later, he said, he noticed she was limp and "not particularly responsive." VanHoutan went on to say he actually took the baby into the living room to play after she woke up. "The defendant described AKV as 'more fussy' than her twin and indicated that when AKV gets mad, there is nothing they can do to please her," he told investigators. VanHoutan then admitted to shaking the baby twice "because she would not calm down," the complaint said. He put her down in her crib and called Ginter several hours later after noticing the child was ill. He was arrested Friday. The Anoka County attorney's office said Monday that it was evaluating medical reports to determine if there would be additional charges against VanHoutan. If there were more charges, VanHoutan would be arraigned Wednesday morning in Anoka County District Court.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

CHILD ABUSE: A journalist's plaint

Christopher Booker: May 15 2011
Christopher Booker

Lord Justice Wall, our most senior family judge, swiftly endorsed Judge Bellamy's extraordinary public attack on 'one-sided' reporting
Lord Justice Wall, our most senior family judge, swiftly endorsed Judge Bellamy's extraordinary public attack on 'one-sided' reporting Photo: UPPA
In March, the number of applications by social workers to take children into care set a new record: 882 in a single month. Over the past year, my reports on how our highly secretive “child protection” system seems, too often, to collude in seizing children without proper justification have provoked considerable irritation in a number of judges – and last week the judiciary hit back. Mr Justice Bellamy, presiding over a case to which I have referred several times, took the unusual course of publishing a judgment in which he was highly critical of me for my “unbalanced” and “inaccurate” reporting. Then the head of the family courts, Lord Justice Wall, in his ruling on another case, swiftly endorsed Bellamy’s attack on me (despite his own earlier criticisms of the “shocking” determination of some social workers to place children in “an unsatisfactory care system”).
I am not displeased that Bellamy has published his judgment, because the main part of it provides a rare opportunity to see how a judge may rely on a particular medical argument which has become increasingly controversial. But first I must deal with his criticism of my reporting. In the many hundreds of words I have written about this case, on five separate occasions, he singled out only two points as inaccurate. On one of these he was right: I was misinformed that a particular medical witness had appeared in another of Bellamy’s cases.
The next day, however, the judge had to add a supplementary judgment, correcting some of what he had said. It emerged that he had made several factual errors in his references to me. These included misquoting what I had written, through reliance on a website (which he misspelt), and claiming that my articles had appeared in The Daily Telegraph.
Bellamy went on, however, to use my two errors as his text for a general homily on how inexcusable it is to give a tendentious account of family cases based on a one-sided picture given by aggrieved parents. This might sound damning to anyone unfamiliar with the whole secretive system, but it takes no account of the extraordinary obstacles placed in the way of any journalist wishing to report fairly on them.
On more than one occasion when I approached a local authority to check on the facts of what seemed a very disturbing case, the only response was to seek a gagging order prohibiting me from mentioning the case at all. When I accurately reported on one case so embarrassing to the council concerned that it eventually dropped its bid to seize a child, the judge ruled that any future reference to the case outside the court could lead to summary imprisonment.
Something else came to light in Bellamy’s judgment, however, that is far more important than his criticism of me. The case before him concerned a couple who last year became so concerned that their six-week old baby had developed a “floppy arm” that in the middle of the night they took it to hospital to be examined. X-rays showed the child had suffered a “non-displaced” fracture of the humerus. The police were summoned to arrest the parents, who were led off in handcuffs and held for hours in police cells. Coventry social workers took the child into care and the police charged the father with physically abusing his son.
Now the judge has delivered his fact-finding judgment, on the basis of which he will decide the child’s future in September, we can see, for the first time, that its injuries included not only the fractured arm but also six “metaphyseal fractures” and several marks or bruises. (“Metaphyseal” refers to the metaphysis, the part of a long bone near where it meets a joint, the part that grows in childhood.) All of this sounded like a very grave set of injuries, which might point to serious physical abuse.
The court heard that in every other respect the couple seemed to be devoted, conscientious parents, anxious only to do the right thing by their child. But what clearly weighed most heavily with the judge were those “metaphyseal fractures”. He heard evidence from no fewer than four medical experts that metaphyseal fractures are a virtually certain sign of “non-accidental injury” (a phrase used 20 times in his judgment), implying intentional physical harm.
Finding on this basis that the child had definitely been abused, Bellamy then saw it as his duty to identify the “perpetrator”. Based on the timing of the events that led to the parents rushing their child to hospital, he concluded that the main injury must have been inflicted in a brief interval when the father was out of the room, and the person responsible must have been the mother. The police, he argued, had been wrong to charge the father (a charge still awaiting trial). The judge was thus, in effect, accusing the mother of a crime.
The problem with regarding metaphyseal injuries as an indicator of abuse is that in recent years ever more medical experts have strongly questioned the idea. Their studies show that metaphyseal fractures may occur in babies with soft, still-forming bones, with minimal trauma. They even question whether such injuries can be properly described as fractures at all. The real explanation, they believe, lies in a metabolic bone disease, a contributory factor to which may be a deficiency in Vitamin D (of the type which evidence showed the mother in our present case to have). Only this month a leading American expert, Dr Marvin Miller, published a major new study suggesting that “the cause of multiple unexplained fractures in some infants” might be “metabolic bone disease, not child abuse”.
Also something of an expert on this subject is Dr James Le Fanu of this newspaper, who in 2005 published a paper in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine entitled “The wrongful diagnosis of child abuse: a master theory”. In another paper, “The misdiagnosis of metaphyseal fractures: a potent cause of wrongful accusations of child abuse”, he described how the theory of metaphyseal fractures as characteristic of child abuse, first advanced by Dr Paul Kleinman in the US in 1986, was taken up by a small group of radiologists in Britain who became much in demand in our courts as expert witnesses. In 2005, under the headline “Happy, loving parents? They must be child abusers”, Dr Le Fanu explained in these pages how reliance on this diagnosis in the criminal courts was already strongly contested, to the point where it became discredited. But in the family courts, he wrote – citing a case remarkably similar to the one before Mr Justice Bellamy today – the theory was unchallenged.
It is certainly noticeable from Bellamy’s account of the evidence that it was all strictly according to Kleinman’s theory. The four expert witnesses he heard all came across as committed advocates of the Kleinman thesis, in arguing that metaphyseal fractures are an indicator of child abuse. For whatever reason, not one expert was called who was prepared to challenge that view. Bellamy himself said that these injuries are often regarded as “pathognomonic of abuse”, meaning they can have no other cause – seemingly unaware that there is a growing body of scientific opinion to suggest that this may not be their cause at all.
The lawyers for the mother, who has effectively been accused by the learned judge of a criminal act, are said to be considering an appeal against Bellamy’s ruling. If so, one hopes they will take the opportunity to call expert witnesses ready to challenge this still prevailing orthodoxy, on the basis of which scores of children have been removed from loving and conscientious parents – so that the bench on that occasion can at least be given a rather less “one-sided” view.