News 08.11.14

Shaken Baby Cases to be Reviewed

In response to the growing number of cases dealing with shaken baby syndrome, the

New England Innocence Project

is reviewing several cases in Massachusetts where adult caregivers were convicted after children in their care died as a result of internal symptoms that doctors once believed could result only from shaking the child.



Boston Herald

reported that the advocacy group doesn’t believe the science used in shaken baby convictions has been sound.


“The reason is that the scientific underpinnings of shaken baby syndrome have been called into question,” said Denise McWilliams, executive director of the project, according to the

Boston Herald



McWilliams said that injuries that have long been associated with shaken baby syndrome — brain bleeding, retinal hemorrhaging and brain swelling — can also be associated with other medical problems and may not be inflicted by an adult like some cases alleged. That is the case for Irish nanny Aisling Brady McCarthy, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 1-year-old Rehma Sabir. The shaken baby diagnosis in McCarthy’s case has been questioned by her defense lawyer but sustained by a well-known pediatrician and supported by the executive director of a nonprofit child welfare group in the Bay State.


Although many physicians and prosecutors remain confident in their judgments, a growing number of critics argue that the syndrome has been overly diagnosed and that innocent people have been sent to prison as a result.


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