Only On 11: Mom speaks out about Shaken Baby Syndrome experience - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Only On 11: Mom speaks out about Shaken Baby Syndrome experience


Almost all victims of Shaken Baby Syndrome experience serious health consequences. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that one out of every four babies die from their injuries. 

In the Toledo area, ProMedica Healthcare Systems reported that three shaken baby occurrences resulted in death in 2014. Mother Miranda Hughes says her now 4-year-old son Averik is lucky he survived a shaken baby incidents. 

"We took him to the hospital, and as soon as we put him on the scale in the emergency room, they automatically knew something was wrong by the moan that he let out," said Hughes. "That's when they determined that he had the broken ribs and the hemorrhaging and bleeding on his brain, and ruled it as Shaken Baby Syndrome." 

Averik was four months old in 2011 when he suffered the child abuse injuries at the hands of his biological father. 

"When I got off work I came home to find him on the sofa. His eyes kept rolling back in his head, and his arms and legs were semi-limp. Every time you would touch him, he would moan out. It was very scary! Not your typical child moan," said Hughes. 

Classified as the violent shaking of a child out of anger or frustration, Shaken Baby Syndrome is one of many types of child abuse that healthcare systems like ProMedica see far too often. 

"There's over a thousand deaths a year in the United States from child abuse and the vast majority, 46 percent, are under a year of age. One case is too many, whether it's a death or serious injury," said Dr. Izsak, Director of Pediatric Emergency Medicine at ProMedica Toledo Children's Hospital. "Maybe the baby's crying too much, the baby won't do this or the baby won't do that, and out of frustration, a baby is shaken. It can only take a few seconds and it causes tearing of the brain, tearing of the blood vessels, injury to the brain, injury to the spinal cord. It can lead to devastating outcomes, including death, brain damage, mental retardation, developmental delays, seizure disorders, blindness, deafness, these are all things that can occur due to the brain injury from shaken baby." 

Averik suffered many of those injuries that life-changing day in 2011. After surgery, and a few weeks at the hospital, doctors came up with an initial prognosis. 

"They basically said that he would be a vegetable, he wouldn't hear, wouldn't see, wouldn't talk, wouldn't do anything," said Hughes. "We took him off life support, and the doctor's gave him two hours to live. My family and I all just sat there holding him, waiting for him to pass and he never did. He started yawning, and opening his eyes." 

Slowly but surely, Averik started making more improvements, although he remains severely developmentally delayed. After utilizing in-home nursing and even hospice care, Averik began attending a pre-school for special needs children. 

"He gets therapy. He gets physical, speech, and occupational therapy. Everything just started to look brighter!" Hughes said. 

The ProMedica Pediatric Emergency Medicine team notes that some parents and caregivers may not have the resources or education available that are crucial for preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome incidents. 

"We always remind them that it's okay to put the baby in their crib, close the door, walk out and give yourself a breather," said Dr. Izsak. "It's okay to call a grandparent, aunt, uncle, somebody to come and watch the baby. It's okay for your baby to cry. What's not okay is for you to ever, ever, ever shake a baby." 

Dr. Izsak also notes that stress can be a trigger for Shaken Baby Syndrome. 

"Shaken babies and frustration occurs with economic times. Poor economic times often equates with an increase in child abuse because that's an added stress on the family," he said. 

For Averik and his family, Hughes says it's all about taking life day-by-day. 

"It's kind of all up in the air. With it being a traumatic brain injury, you can't specifically say what he will or won't be able to do. So we just kind of take it a day at a time and see what he develops. What comes, comes and what doesn't, we continue to work on," she said. 

What has come is a handful of words, and some numbers, for Averik, along with more interaction with his little sister Lacy. 

While Averik's biological father served four years in prison for the shaken baby incident, Hughes says it doesn't make up for how Averik's life was altered. 

"It sucks because my son has to live with this incident for the rest of his life. We all have to live with it for the rest of our lives, and he was punished for four year," she said. 

She's hoping that telling her story will help save another child from going through the same ordeal. 

"You never think it's going to happen to me. It's never going to happen to somebody I know, until it does," said Hughes. "He's not supposed to be doing anything that he is doing today, and there's too many babies that actually die from this. Even later down the road, even after they've survived for five to ten years, they still pass away due to some type of complication because of it. There's too many babies and children dying from it, and not enough knowledge out there about it." 

Meanwhile, Averik's family and his physicians are in awe of his progress. 

"(They say it's) unbelievable! I mean, he wasn't meant to do anything that he's doing today. Even though he's still severely delayed, he's a miracle," said Hughes. "I would say the biggest thing I learned is: don't take it for granted. He's my world." 

For more information on Shaken Baby Syndrome, click here.  

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