Outcome after severe non-accidental head injury

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Over the past three years 15 children have been admitted to the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at Addenbrooke's hospital suspected of having non-accidental injuries; presentation was diverse and often mild and out of proportion to the degree of morbidity seen at discharge and follow up. When compared with a group of similar aged children admitted to the PICU with severe head injury caused by accidental impact trauma, the differences in morbidity were profound. It is suggested that these differences are explained in part by the predominant repetitive rotational forces experienced during severe shaking compared with the translocational forces that the head experiences during impact injuries. This anecdotal evidence supports the theory that shaking alone may cause severe intracranial injury. Thus campaigns should continue to increase public and doctors' awareness that shaking may be dangerous.(Arch Dis Child 1997;77:504-507)

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