Thursday, May 14, 2015

Shaken Baby Syndrome: "World Magazine" story highlights the new documentary "The Syndrome" (which) "makes a compelling case for questioning shaken baby charges". Daniel James Devine;

STORY:  "New documentary questions shaken baby cases," by Daniel James Devine, published by World Magazine on April 22, 2015.

SUB-HEADING: "The Syndrome examines the questions some doctors are raising about abuse allegations that land parents and caregivers in jail."

GIST: "The film examines the science of shaken baby syndrome and spotlights doctors who have raised questions about the diagnosis. Also known as abusive head trauma, shaken baby syndrome is a medical diagnosis doctors often make after discovering a baby with head swelling, bleeding on the surface of the brain, and bleeding in the back of the eyes. The diagnosis has been used to convict hundreds of parents and caretakers of abuse, including Josh Burns. It is sometimes supported by additional evidence, such as skull fractures, though not in every case. The Syndrome shows how abuse allegations based on shaken baby syndrome occasionally fall apart under scrutiny. Certain illnesses and medical conditions can cause the symptoms often blamed on shaking or head trauma—raising the question of whether some people have been wrongly convicted. Lisa Stickney, who ran a daycare in Oregon, spent a year in jail awaiting trial on murder charges after prosecutors said she abused a 14-month-old boy. She was later acquitted after a witness said the child had bumped his head against a brick wall. John Plunkett, a retired pathologist, testified in Stickney’s case and dozens of others. “People are being charged and convicted for crimes that just simply did not occur,” he says in the film. “Married couples, professional daycare operators, everybody.” The Syndrome makes a compelling case for questioning shaken baby charges. So compelling, in fact, a viewer might go away questioning whether the classic symptoms of shaken baby syndrome are ever indicators of abuse. But that would be going too far: Doctors who doubt the syndrome admit the bleeding symptoms can indicate abuse, but say other explanations—illnesses or accidental injuries—may be to blame. Another doctor interviewed in the film, Patrick Barnes, testified for the prosecution in the highly publicized 1997 trial of Louise Woodward, a 19-year-old British nanny convicted of shaking a baby to death in Boston. “I never questioned the science behind it,” he said. “I followed the line that this had to be shaking.” But the courtroom experience left Barnes with nagging doubts......Plunkett, Barnes, and other doubters of the shaken baby diagnosis have endured sharp criticism for their views. Many doctors still consider the science of shaken baby syndrome, first described four decades ago, as firmly established. The film includes footage of doctors defending the shaken baby diagnosis in TV interviews and at medical conferences. “There is a cult of irrationality that is amongst us,” said Robert Reece, a former child protection program director at the Tufts Medical Center children’s hospital in Boston, in one clip. The documentary is based on the research of Susan Goldsmith, an independent reporter who began investigating the science of shaken baby syndrome in 2008. Doubts about shaken baby syndrome were so controversial at the time that her former employer, The Oregonian, refused to publish her research."
The entire story can be found at:

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The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

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