This blog recounts more than a decade of my research about shaken baby syndrome (SBS).
I’m a technical writer who was drawn into the arena over several months in 1996 and 1997. While sitting with a friend on various park benches as our children played, I heard the story of my friend’s adult niece, Stephanie, accused and ultimately convicted of shaking an infant she was watching. At the end of the story Stephanie went to prison, where she would miss her own son’s childhood.
Then Louise Woodward—the Boston nanny—hit the headlines and stayed there for a year. I started researching the medical thinking behind both convictions and reached an astonishing conclusion: Doctors working with a well accepted but unproven model of SBS are overdiagnosing shaking injuries, and sometimes identifying the wrong perpetrator.
I’m now wrapping up a book that explains how different standards and practices within the two professional communities—medicine and the law—have allowed an unproven theory to become courtroom fact. The tangle is now Gordian, as good people who’ve been working with the best of intentions must come to grips with possibly having been wrong. The victims of this tragedy are legion.
See, for example, the prologue to the book.