Here we go again: The vile tactic of blaming shaken baby syndrome on vaccines, part 3

Whenever I discuss the concept of being "antivaccine" and how almost nobody wants to have the label "antivaccine" applied ot her, it's not uncommon that I hear the whinging retort from antivaccinationists claiming that "I'm not antivaccine; I'm pro-vaccine safety," or some similar claim. Of course, whenever I see antivaccinationists likening vaccination to the Holocaust (and themselves to Jews wearing the Yellow Star of David), rape, and felonious assault, I realize that denials tend merely to help antivaccinationists convince themselves that they don't stand for something that society rightly frowns upon. However, their claims otherwise tend to be belied by the ease with which antivaccinationists don't blink an eye when one of the most vile claims of all is made, namely that shaken baby syndrome (now more commonly referred to as abusive head trauma) is a misdiagnosis for vaccine injury. Indeed, this belief has led to the defense of some truly vile people, such as Alan Yurko, a man convicted of shaking his girlfriend’s baby to death, and tried to get him freed based on the claim that the baby had really died from encephalitis caused by vaccine injury. The claim was so ridiculous as to make one wonder why anyone would take it the least bit seriously, but some antivaccinationists hate vaccines so much that no contortion of the truth is too twisted. It’s an idea that appears to have originated with Australian antivaccinationist Veira Scheibner in the late 1990s.

Back in 2013, I noted another such case, this time in South Africa, in which the parents of a baby (called Baby A at the time) who died. Baby A This was a five month old baby who was vaccinated in September 2012 and died 22 days after receiving eight vaccinations (actually four vaccinations, as one of them was pentavalent. When the baby girl was admitted to the hospital, she was diagnosed with “bleeding on the brain” and multiple long bone fractures. The parents were then apparently arrested for child abuse and murder. At that point, an antivaccine “journalist” by the name of Christina England tried to represent this case as a grave injustice, with the brain injury likely due to vaccine injury. But what about the long bone fractures? On this, England was noticeably silent, mentioning only that “her mother explained that after her ordeal, Baby A was irritable, upset and had difficulty in settling. That the following day, she was unable to move her legs, which remained hard and swollen around the injection site for several days.” She also mentioned that her parents thought the nurse had administered the vaccines roughly, as though that would be likely to cause such a reaction.

I blogged about the case a couple of times, and, then, not hearing anything more about it, I forgot about it; that is, until now, when a reader sent me an update. It saddens me that I appear to have been correct. It saddens me even more that the parents appear to have claimed the life of a second child:

Recent reports indicate that Stacey-Lee van der Ross, 29 and Junaid Adam-Shaik, 33, parents accused of murdering their 5-month-old baby Alaia, have possibly murdered their second child, Amanee (three months).

After a post mortem was performed on the second baby girl, the state added a second charge of murder to their charge sheet. The couple allegedly told people that both children died after choking. They possibly decided to flee after learning of the second murder charge.

The pair face two charges of murder, assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm and child abuse. They stand accused of severely harming Alaia since her birth on 11 May to her death on 12 October 2012. According to the charge sheet she was injured on numerous occasions, her injuries including chafe marks and broken bones; specifically, a broken arm. The belief is that Amanee, born December 2013, suffered the same fate in March the following year.

Yes, it appears that "Baby A" was Baby Alaia. It also appears that the same parents have had another child, and that that child died under circumstances suspicious enough to result in the authorities in South Africa investigating and ultimately pressing charges. Moreover, as is frequently the situation in these cases, apparently the father is abusive. Now that the couple is on the run from the law, Stacey-Lee van der Ross' mother is very concerned for her safety:

As police hunt a young couple accused of murdering their two babies, the children's grandmother says she fears for her daughter's safety.

Avril van der Ross, 50, said she was extremely worried about her daughter, Stacey Lee, 29, who fled along with her partner, Junaid Adam-Shaik, 33, in February when their murder trial was due to start.

the couple from Florida, West of Johannesburg, face two charges of murder, two of assault with the intent to to grievous bodily harm, one each of child abuse, and one of defeating the ends of justice.

They are accused in the deaths of their first daughter, Alaia, who died when she was just five months old in October 2012, and Amanee, who died in March last year at the age of three months.

Van der Ross said the couple had had a stormy relationship, during which Adam-Shaik had abused Stacey-Lee.

One can hardly fail to note the similarities to the case of Alan Yurko, who was similarly abusive and killed his girlfriend's son. It also just goes to show how low some antivaccine activists, like Christina England, will go to demonize vaccines, just as Alan Yurko's supporters did for him over a decade ago. They are so convinced that vaccines kill that they're willing to try to use that claim to let child killers go free. Christina England is the poster child for this particularly vile phenomenon in the antivaccine movement.

The main question that I have remaining is who found whom. Did Christina England find this couple after news reports from South Africa started trickling out to the rest of the world, or did the couple reach out to her? Either way, as I described, the parents were totally on board with blaming Alaia's death on vaccines for a period back in 2013, even doing radio interviews. She even made an online bid for sympathy back around that time:

In a blog post understood to have been written by baby murder-accused mother Stacey-Lee van der Ross, 29, she claims to have been wrongfully accused of “shaking” her baby.

The blog post to tumblr, published on 2 August 2013 (almost a year after first baby Alaia’s death) sports the nonsensical title, “Shaken baby syndrome… Real or are people hiding something?”

In the post, Stacey-Lee tells the story of her firstborn Alaia that was born in May 2012 and was always “crabby” after receiving vaccinations at a clinic.


“Does anyone kow what shaken baby syndrome is?” she wrote and added, “Neither did I, well at least until we got accused of it.”

Of Alaia, she wrote “she became our lives, our 24 hours a day”.

“If she wasn’t feeling too grand we were all too happy to stay at home so that she would be comfortable… she was our life now, our everything.”

It seems that the accused mother blamed harshly administered vaccine injections, at least in part, for her firstborn’s death.

“What we did notice is that every time they jabbed her, or should I say stabbed her.

“That’s what it looked like; after such excessive force her leg would swell up and get hard, not for days, for weeks.”

Interestingly, this post published a full year after baby Alaia's death. It's also adding to the vileness that Stacey-Lee van der Ross would try to blame the nurses for Alaia's injuries.

More interestingly (and not surprisingly), Christina England appears to have gone AWOL over this case, although as recently as September 2014 she was mentioning the Baby Alaia case thusly in an interview, "I currently know of five parents who are in prison and two who are presently on trial: one set of parents are being tried for murder in South Africa, and the other is a young lady accused of seriously damaging her little boy." On the Facebook page for "Baby A's Parents," on March 4, England left a post stating:

You are both in my prayers. Love you

Posted by Christina England on Wednesday, March 4, 2015

One notes that this Facebook page has been fallow for over a year, with no posts since 2013. One also notes that the parents fled before their trial was scheduled to begin on February 23; so England must have known that they were on the lam if she had bothered to do even the most cursory Google search. Later, on April 25, England left another post on their Facebook page:

Has anyone got any news as to what happened to these parents?

Posted by Christina England on Saturday, April 25, 2015

A few days later, on April 29, she left a comment stating "Do not be too sure that it was not vaccinations please read" followed by a link to an article, Sally Clark’s child killed by a vaccine? There are only two likely explanations that come to mind here for England's behavior. Either she really is that clueless and hasn't bothered to Google the names of the parents and Alaia, or she's engaging in a rather obvious bit of CYA. It's highly tempting to post a link to a news story or two about the parents' being charged with the murder of their second baby and their flight from the law. Or maybe I'll leave a link to this post there later. Or maybe one of you could. Actually, I know that the second comment, at least, is CYA, because there is a news report dated April 19 in which the reporter noted England's blog post about Alaia and reported she had "set out to contact England but without success to date." I'd bet that England knows that the parents have been charged with a second murder and are on the run.

Either way, Christina England is about as vile as it gets. The favorable (or at least neutral reaction that she and her ilk who try to get child abusers and baby killers freed by blaming shaken baby on vaccines receive from the antivaccine movement is just one more bit of evidence that they are antivaccine, not pro-vaccine safety. Christina England should hide her face in shame for promoting this myth, but she won't. After all, she is an antivaccine zealot.


More like this

About a week ago, I wrote about something that really irritates me, namely that most despicable of antivaccine claims, which is that shaken baby syndrome is somehow a misdiagnosis for vaccine injury. It is a claim that, as far as I can recall, began when, for reasons that have continued to elude me…
About ten or twelve years ago, back when I was in essence, a newly minted skeptic and public supporter of science-based medicine, I was so naive. There I was, having just discovered the Usenet newsgroup and confronting the original wretched hive of scum, quackery, and…
I was a bit angry yesterday. I’m never happy when I see the overarching narrative that prescientific and pseudoscientific beliefs are equivalent and worth doing clinical trials on them. But the irritation I feel when I see examples of journalists credulously swallowing that narrative whole and…
Remember Alan Yurko? To remind those of you not familiar with this particularly odious excuse for a human being, I'll briefly relate who he is and why he's so vile. Alan Yurko is a baby killer, pure and simple. He shook his 10-week-old son to death. Normally, such a pitiful excuse for a human being…

I had heard of blaming the vaccines for shaken baby deaths both here and in news reports at the time. This is the first I am aware of where they try to blame the nurse for handling the baby roughly. Branching out in vileness I think.


I'm not sure what the oh the nurse was so rough has to do with it, unless they are trying to blame broken arms and other signs of physical abuse on rough nursing or it is some sort of projection to take their own intent to harm the infant and put that intent on the nurse. Trying to turn the nurses' more passive role in the alleged vaccine injury into some sort of deliberate, active, and malevolent intent to specifically kill or harm this specific child.

You have to put some effort into breaking the limbs of a newborn.

If the fracture were spiral fractures (as seems likely as that's what we typically see in abuse cases) then there is no way the nurses were responsible. Being a "little rough" (whatever that means) wouldn't do that. You have to deliberately twist.

Does anyone know why the parents in this case weren't charged with murder 2 years ago? Is the South African criminal justice system just that slow? Or did someone actually buy this vaccination swill?

Articles like this post make me think of a thought experiment. If an antivaxxer was given a knife and an infant and made an offer "Shiv the baby and we'll ban vaccines" - how many of that crowd would gladly sacrifice the baby? And of that number, would they kill 2 babies? Or 5? 10, maybe 100? Or are they only strong and convinced when someone else commits vile deed to be excused.

By The Smith of Lie (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

It’s an idea that appears to have originated with Australian antivaccinationist Veira Scheibner in the late 1990s.

Not sure if you know about this case but in Australia there was a trial in 1998 where Scott Warren Walters was charged with killing his four month old daughter Rikki-Lee. Testifying for the defence was the late Dr Archie Kalokerinos and Dr Mark Donohoe, both of whom were associated with the AV(S)N. I was also a patient of Dr Donohoe and he diagnosed me with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, a fake disease. Both of them blamed a vaccine in combination with other factors for the death of Rikki-Lee. The judge accepted their testimony as discrediting the Crown's witnesses and ruled Walters innocent.

By antidenialism (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

Seems like the South African government really let this baby down if the parents were not only free but also caring for another baby. And what is wrong with AVers? How can you think your side is just if you are defending child killers? I mean, it's not just ATH but also murderers of autistic children that they apologize for.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

Please, consider permanent sterilization, both of you. And turn yourselves in.

Does anyone know why the parents in this case weren’t charged with murder 2 years ago? Is the South African criminal justice system just that slow? Or did someone actually buy this vaccination swill?

That’s my question as well. It seems horrific that they were seemingly left to go out and simply repeat the offense. Although, I’m not sure there is any legal way to prevent them breeding without convicting and jailing them. Were they ever tried for the initial death?

By darwinslapdog (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

#3, #6 and #8, South African here.
It's out and out incompetence, mixed with corruption and patronage. The African National Congress payed a huge role in ending apartheid and the predominantly black electorate has kept them in power since 1994, when apartheid ended. Unfortunately, freedom fighters make incompetent overlords. Our current president Jacob Zuma was facing 783 charges of corruption before he came to power. To protect him, the state has been corrupted. Allies of his have been appointed to key positions like the Director of Public Prosecutions, with lavish salaries. to keep them on side.
All this has damaged the police and the National Prosecuting Authority. That's a somewhat simplified version, but it explains it in the main.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

The judge accepted their testimony as discrediting the Crown’s witnesses and ruled Walters innocent

Nice to see that Italy and the US don't have a corner on the idiot-judge market.

We seem to have some cases in The Netherlands as well and there is a site which defends these people. There is a lawyer and a doctor who helps these people with their defence, blaming vaccines.
Alas the site is in Dutch, but perhaps Google translate can help.

“Shiv the baby and we’ll ban vaccines”

With what, The Smith of Lie #4? A Dremmel with stone 932? One *shanks* with a *shive*.

And in related news, anti-vaxxers dispute the historical view that Henry VIII had two of his wives murdered. Apparently it was an adverse vaccine reaction that made their heads fall off.

How awful of a person do you need to be to make your professional site Translation, Google does a pretty good job and it is just as awful as you would imagine.

Wiktionary disagrees. You can shiv with a shank or shank with a shiv.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

Yea, #14. It seems a bit muddled.

In modern slang, the two are most often used interchangeably, in much the same way that the nouns “cemetery” and “graveyard”are used to describe a place of rest for the dead. The amalgamated origins behind the use of the term “shiv”, combined with a verbal evolution which freely alternates between the two has led to a wholly confused usage in the modern American dialect. ...

... The oft-erroneous Wikipedia has only added to the muddling of definitions by describing a shiv as “a crudely made homemade knife out of everyday materials, especially prevalent in prisons among inmates. An alternate name in some prisons is Shank.” Likewise, Urban Dictionary confuses the two by claiming that each instrument is defined by the material from which it is fashioned, that “a shiv is typically made of wood, plastic or glass,” while a shank is “a homemade knife made of metal.” ...

... In terms of the probability of one or the other, consider this: a knife is an edged weapon; the inclusion of a point, while a common occurrence, is not required to meet the definition of the term, and the same should hold true for shiv (consider the butter knife - slices through butter, but with a rounded tip ). While the addition of a point to the tip of a shiv might be advantageous, it is not necessary for the implement to meet its defined function as a slicing weapon . ...

... Therefore it would stand to reason that of the two, the knife-like shiv would be more prone to be misused to stab/shank a person, as opposed to a pointed shank being misused to slice/cut/shiv an opponent. Thus, you would be more likely to be “shanked with a shiv” than “shivved with a shank.”

Some food for thought from- of all places- Wikp--- (on SBS)

There is some support for a name change which may more clearly explicate what has occurred in these cases-
Non Accidental Head Injury ( NAHI) UK Proscecutors
Abusive Head Trauma ( US) Peds

Risk Factors include..
"Caregivers that are at risk for becoming abusive often have unrealistic expectations of the child and may display 'role reversal', expecting the child to fulfill the needs of the caregiver'"

I'm sure you can guess why I mentioned that last bit.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

Or maybe one of you could.

I'm sure someone did...

Pardon me for changin the subject as I always seem to do, but am I the only person (or Pokemon) who seems to be getting a banner ad that says "Should Parents Be Forced to Vaccinate Their Kids?"

I don't know about you guys, but I'm not touching that link with a ten-foot pole. Perhaps Orac can shower that link with his customary brand of Insolence? (Or perhaps, maybe, we could troll that site with some pro-vax views?)

No one should ever be given a pass because they shook a child until the child's brain scrambled like an egg in a jar.
Disgust just doesn't seem strong enough a word for it.

@ Lucario:

Not me. I keep getting ads about new cars fit for 'off road adventures'. I could use an off road adventure about now.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

Disgust just doesn’t seem strong enough a word for it.

Yeah. To be honest - and this is a rare thing for me - I just have no words.

I was getting it on almost every page. The link is It claims that you need to give an email to get the results but you can find them here. The comments on that page are worth a chuckle. And hey, if they want to waste their money advertising on RI, that's cool with me.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

There are only two likely explanations that come to mind here for England’s behavior. Either she really is that clueless and hasn’t bothered to Google the names of the parents and Alaia, or she’s engaging in a rather obvious bit of CYA.

"You are both in my prayers" makes the former a lot less likely than the latter, imo. I almost think it's likelier that she's cooperating with law enforcement than that she has no clue what's going on, in fact.

Not that I think it's likely. Sounds more like she's offering her spin-doctoring services.

Loathesome and repellent as that is.

Have you noticed that it doesn't seem like anyone denies shaking their baby but rather that it doesn't cause the injuries and vaccines do. Because trauma is not known to cause long bone fractures or intracerebral hemorrhage while vaccine injury is well known to.

Device Walter@16
I fully agree with the rebranding as abusive head trauma. That's what the peds hospitals around here are using now.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

From your first link:

It’s difficult to convince the judge and the jury that a general radiologist in Illinois is smarter than their backyard experts at their university hospitals.”


By capnkrunch (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

@ Tim & capnkrunch #12, 14, 15
Shiv, shank, slay, slaughter or smite, the expressions secondary. I really suspect that given the chance fair number of antivaccine advocates would murder the baby to get the ban on vaccines if such thing was possible. After all I remember seeing the response to lethality of measels being along the lines "oh, what is few dead children compared to vaccine genocide".

By The Smith of Lie (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

how many of that crowd would gladly sacrifice the baby? And of that number, would they kill 2 babies?

Put the babies on the tracks of a thought-experiment trolley and get back to me.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

Lucario@18: That's a recurring problem, and not just on this blog. The algorithm that decides which ad to serve you knows that Orac discusses vaccination on this blog, and in particular discusses certain people who are prominent opponents of mandatory vaccination. Said algorithm is not smart enough to notice that Orac is applying his version of Respectful Insolence to said opponents of mandatory vaccination. So depending on your browsing history, it may well serve up an ad like that. Or it might serve up something else related to your recent browsing history. For instance, if Denice@20 has recently been looking at buying a new car, that would explain the car ads she has been seeing.

As I said, it's a long-standing issue (a few years ago Orac specifically complained in a blog post about ads touting the very flavor of woo he was criticizing in a previous post appearing alongside that post. Nor is it limited to Respectful Insolence: political ads for Republican candidates frequently appear on political web sites whose operators openly prefer Democratic candidates. As noted above, the advertiser's money goes to the web site owner even when the two are directly opposed, so if you're seeing that ad on RI, that's a few cents that organization doesn't have to spend on propaganda better aimed at the susceptible.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

Yup. I've basically given up on fighting it any more. It's a recurrent problem both here and at my not-so-super-secret other blog, and the longer I've been in the blogosphere the more I've realized that, unless you want to go to the trouble of finding your own advertisers (not practical) then you have to put up with what the ad servers serve up and just try to stomp on only the most egregious. All of them do this to some degree or other, although some make it easier to filter bad ads than others. There really is no escaping unless you either no longer advertise (not possible financially) or spend endless amounts of time trying to track down and shoot down the odd bad ad.

My advice to readers: Just deal with it. If it offends you so much, either use AdBlocker, click on them to charge them for the clickthrough, or stop reading. Personally, I'm starting to find some amusement in it.

Put the babies on the tracks of a thought-experiment trolley and get back to me.

Ok. Trolley is moving down the track on which lies a helpless, unvaccinated baby. You can switch it to a second track. Tied to the second track are Mike Adams, Thinking Moms and AoA's Anne Dachel.

How quickly will you switch the track?

By The Smith of Lie (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

No one should ever be given a pass because they shook a child until the child’s brain scrambled like an egg in a jar.
Disgust just doesn’t seem strong enough a word for it.

You know what? I disagree. As a parent, I consider SBS a failure mostly of education. I can tell you, I can understanding getting to the point where frustration takes over. The difference between me and those that shake the baby is that I know how to recognize that situation and consequently deal with it.

OTOH, consider good old Alan Yurko. In an attempt to defend himself, he denied shaking the baby, but admitted to holding the baby upside down by it's feet and beating it. But at least he didn't shake it!!!!!!

No. I would have a lot more sympathy for him if he denied hitting the kid, but admitted that, yeah, he got frustrated and shook him, and he didn't mean to harm him. That I could understand. It's still wrong, but it's a damn sight different from "I hung him upside down by his feet and smacked him." That is a deliberate act of harm of a monster. SBS can easily be a loss of control due to frustration and is more of a lack of education and/or awareness.

By Marry Me, Mindy (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

While all the educational interventions in the world will never reach everyone, how many more do we need before we can assume most people have heard from someone at some point that you can harm a baby's brain by slamming it's head against something hard or shaking it until it can no longer do whatever it did that frustrated you. I kinda understand that Purple Crying hasn't quite made it to everyone's heard of it yet, but usually there is some information most people get about infants not tolerating the same amount of rough-housing that is OK for a toddler or adult.

At some point all you have left are the people that will smack, shack, slam, beat, or suffocate anything that annoys them a little too much for a little too long because they just can't manage to stop themselves even if they can feel regret afterward and no amount of telling them why it is harmful and no amount of telling them how many years they will spend in jail will stop them.

Yes I do know some people have no access to education, and care, but I find a lot of the I didn't know and I didn't mean to as a tactic rather than a truth. Maybe I'm too cynical but I sometimes do wonder how could you not know and how could you not have intended something to happen. Maybe you intended harm that wouldn't be easily detected or lead to a hospitalization but hard to believe there was no intent to do something less than comforting to get the child to quiet down or stop doing something.

Anyone who is evil enough to abuse a child, much less murder a baby, is also evil enough to seek out any possible excuse or alibi, from accidents to vaccines to God to Satan. This is not surprising, and it does further tarnish the reputations of anti-vaxers who participate in that stuff, and thereby tarnishes the reputations of anti-vaxers in general.

If we're interested in helping catch these monsters and similar ones, the thing to do is extensively search online, note any reference to names and aliases and userIDs of the suspects, then search each of those and keep going until you find the most recent ones. If the suspects have Facebook pages, or if you have any other good facial photos (e.g. the photo Orac has at the top of this page) try using face-matching searches to see if their faces turn up elsewhere including in backgrounds of other shots. In all of this, keep track of anyone who appears to be a social contact of the suspects, and search their data as well, using the same methods, and then to be sure, search those contacts' contacts. Important rule: never interact with persons of interest: observe and report only, otherwise you could end up interfering with the case without even realizing it.

Keep track of URLs, take date/time-stamped screen shots, and give them unambiguous names or at least numbers you can index to a text document. All of this is tedious as can be, but very often it can get results.

If local or national law enforcement is effective, turn over what you have to them. In the US, the FBI treats child abuse cases as a priority, particularly where the suspects may have fled to avoid prosecution.

If law enforcement is questionable or not effective, per Julian Frost @ 9, that is the condition that encourages vigilante activities. The only solution to that is to get involved in electoral politics. But the fact is that we should _all_ be involved in electoral politics anyway, if for no other reason than to stay ahead of antivaxers, quacks, science denialists, etc. whose lobbying activities are well known here.


Re. "shiv" etc.: Sorry but I find that whole line of conversation highly unseemly; it comes across as flip at a time when we've just heard of a horrible case of child abuse. The clash of emotional tone between the news and that commentary could also be used against us by our enemies. Understood about needing to find a way to cope with the news, but none the less.


Re. ads for quacks: I have my security settings cranked up, so I don't see 'em, which in a way is too bad because I'd find them highly amusing. We should be happy that they're wasting their money here: anything that wastes their money is good. It would be worthwhile to create additional "black hole" sites to attract quack ads right next to blog entries that tear them to shreds.

By Gray Squirrel (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

KayMarie - I disagree completely that there is sufficient education about it. And note that I didn't just talk about knowing that "shaking the baby is wrong" it is about recognizing the situations where it occurs and knowing about acceptable ways for handling those situations. No, parents do NOT get enough instruction in these types of matters. That you describe it as "slamming it’s head against something hard or shaking it until it can no longer do whatever it did" actually shows that you DON'T really know much about it. While those are clearly bad things, that is not what all SBS is like, nor is it necessary to cause SBS.

Dad's Boot Camp was created to address the problem of SBS, and spends time talking with prospective fathers about these issues, so those who have access to Dad's Boot Camp can learn about it. But is this type of education going on at normal baby classes? Not for the most part.

By Marry Me, Mindy (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

Re. “shiv” etc.: Sorry but I find that whole line of conversation highly unseemly; it comes across as flip at a time when we’ve just heard of a horrible case of child abuse. The clash of emotional tone between the news and that commentary could also be used against us by our enemies. Understood about needing to find a way to cope with the news, but none the less.

I am sorry that the part of discussion, that I begun seems flippant or disrespectful towards tragety at hand. It was never my intention to negate how vile the murder of the baby is. Whole thing was spurned by disregard with which antivaccinationts blame SBS on vaccines and their willingness to defend parents who had virtually straight up murdered their children.

So, as far as initial intention goes, please treat it as (a bit of shock tactic-esque) way to underline how despicable some of AV crowd people are.

By The Smith of Lie (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

Since we're speculating on what can lead to SBS, I think both a lack of maturity and impulse control play a strong role.

I remember my daughter as an infant, screaming her head off for hours one night. Nothing I did for her made any difference. She was not sick, she was not hungry, she was probably tired, and beyond the point of easily falling asleep. I remember this night well because my husband was out and at one point, I left the room, closed the door, and sat down, shaking and weeping. I left because I was afraid that if I didn't, I would not be able to control myself. I'm not a bad person, I'm not evil. Just tired beyond belief and at the end of my proverbial rope.

I remember this night well because my husband was out and at one point, I left the room, closed the door, and sat down, shaking and weeping. I left because I was afraid that if I didn’t, I would not be able to control myself. I’m not a bad person, I’m not evil. Just tired beyond belief and at the end of my proverbial rope.

Yep, and the difference between you and a baby shaker is that you dealt with the situation in an appropriate fashion. Not everyone can recognize the need to do things like, leave the room, close the door, sit down and cry or whatever until you can respond to the situation back in control.

This is why I say I am much more understanding of shaking the baby, because, as parents, we all have been in the situation that Delphine describes. The difference is in how we respond.

However, I have never been in a situation where I could hang the kid upside-down by his feet and beat him. There's a huge difference in what it takes to have that happen.

By Marry Me, Mindy (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

I really don't think it is completely ignored with almost no educational interventions except one or two here or there.

I know there have been huge purple crying interventions in my state (which is all about the types of infant behavior that tend to get someone to the point they will harm the baby because they can't take it anymore).

What Delphine describes sounds like what they call purple crying. It is a normal developmental stage and educating parents about that I do think makes a difference for those who can care enough about the child to be frustrated that they aren't being a good parent because they cannot soothe the child out of the distress they are going through.

I dunno, maybe there are a bunch of cases where the parent just barely shook the child at all and they died, but I guess I'm looking at the cases that actually make it to court and most of those the parent did a lot more than a gentle shake or three or rocked the cradle just a bit too hard. All to often it is hard to tell what damage is from the shaking and what was from the hard slam against the wall or floor at the end to put an exclamation point on the you better not dare annoy me again non-verbal communication they were making.

Pretty much all the court cases (and maybe the normal run of the mill not so violently shook a baby to death cases don't get prosecuted) the accused claims that even if they did it, they didn't know know that would hurt the baby and they certainly didn't intend death even if it might look like they intended to hurt the baby.

Which is why I often find the news reports of who could know this even existed as a tactic rather than the truth.

I do think we need more education, but at some point there are people who are going to be abusive and no amount of education is going to make an infant safe around those people and I just can't excuse it (and I don't need it to be only if the parent did other acts of violence before the one that killed the infant). Especially those cases where the parent didn't think anything was wrong with the non-responsive infant for way longer than a baby goes without wanting to be fed or changed.


Putting aside vaccines for a minute,I have seen all sorts of reports of serious health problems from commercial infant formula.That the commercial infant formulas sold today are somehow different from the different from the ones sold 30,40,50 years ago.This is something I know absolutely nothing about.Is there any truth to this? Is this something we ought to be more concerned about?

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

KayMarie - you are focusing on death, whereas SBS injuries are much broader than that.

By Marry Me, Mindy (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink

Yes I admitted I focused on more of the ones that end up in court cases, although a few will be in a coma forever or blind or otherwise disabled do made it to court and like I said maybe they only make the news if there was evidence of other abuse or the parent was negligent about follow up care from a child who stopped doing normal infant behaviors for hours on end.

I'm not sure how many just like any other concussion or whiplash that may happen for any other reason really get classified as SBS or abusive head trauma. Usually I hear SBS as the more severe end where the child is disabled or dead where it takes a fair amount of force to get enough damage for that. I hope we don't make the category so broad we really are prosecuting parents for damage that could as easily be from normal wear and tear and is transient (although we are getting more aware of how much damage even fairly minor concussions can cause if you get enough of them over a lifetime).

I do assume a spectrum but I thought most of the time by the time the level of damage rises to SBS diagnosis, especially as in this case where it went to court, we are talking significant damage, but your mileage may vary.

And like I said, more education is better, but I just feel we shouldn't excuse too many people, or be blinded by the excuses of those who will say anything to avoid the consequences of what they have done.

Don't confuse my intolerance for the excuses of violent abusive people as saying that we should stop educating people on purple crying or how to better handle the frustrations of child rearing. It's just you can't educate someone into empathy or caring or seeking treatment for their own trauma that makes them prone to act out in inappropriate ways.

@Marry Me - It's not so much education as in the US anyway we have an epidemic of unplanned pregnancies. Fully half of all pregnancies aren't planned. What does that say about the parents? Are they young? Do they really want the baby or just feel pressured to have it? I compare and contrast even how my siblings and I react to our children. My sisters are (in my opinion) shorter tempered with their children. And they weren't even unwanted pregnancies. But my husband and I struggled for literally years to have a baby and went through a year of fertility treatment to have a baby. I am not bothered by his crying or whining. I am just not. The fact that we got to have a baby at all is such a joy that nothing else matters. He was a remarkably good baby, but still, I would look at my sister (her child is only 4 months older) getting so fed up with her baby crying that there were many times I took her baby from her so she would calm down. So I think at the root of it, there are some people who are abusive, and there are some who shouldn't have children. And in the US there are a lot of unplanned (and possibly unwanted) pregnancies brought into the world to parents who are unprepared to cope emotionally or otherwise with a baby. Add the stress of actually caring for a newborn, financial, lack of sleep, etc. and some of them snap under the pressure. And BTW the new parent class they offer at hospitals is total baloney.

Putting aside vaccines for a minute,I have seen all sorts of reports of serious health problems from commercial infant formula.That the commercial infant formulas sold today are somehow different from the different from the ones sold 30,40,50 years ago.This is something I know absolutely nothing about.Is there any truth to this?

First I've heard of it. Sarah Pope blathers about soy-based fomulas (which I think are comparatively new) here. The rest would seem to have to come from changes in dairy production.

Do you have any examples?

@#44 --

I agree with the AAP article that it's important to acknowledge that both over-diagnosis and under-diagnosis probably occur.

It's too emotionally fraught for it to be otherwise. And acknowledging it is a step in the direction of remedying that.

Seems to me that the problem is primarily police-prosecutorial error not medical error when there is one, anyway. But I could be wrong about that.

They talk about aluminum in baby formula as the cause of rickets in that link you gave earlier.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 05 May 2015 #permalink


I'm not sure what point you're trying to make here, other than "I am a better Mom because I suffered from infertility", which is complete and utter BS.

First you say that the problem is due in part to unplanned pregnancies. Okay, I can accept that premise...but then you compare your sisters, who, unlike you, are short-tempered with their children...despite the fact that said children were not unplanned.

But then I totally get what you're trying to say from there, because you look to your Pain Olympics laurels to illustrate why you are just such a better Mom. You suffered! You had to do it the hard way! Ergo, that makes you the superior Mom.

I suffered, too. You went through a year of fertility treatment? I scoff at your year! You don't know how many IVFs we did, how many babies we lost, how much money we spent, for years and years. I stopped counting at 89 when I was making the list of "Medical Professionals Who've Seen My Genitals". Our child was very much wanted, so I should never lose my temper with her, or detest her crying, or wish she wouldn't whine when I'm trying to watch the hockey game...I should just marvel in the joy of having her, and feel superior to lesser parents who didn't struggle like we did.

Did it ever occur to you that maybe your infertility has nothing to do with the fact that you're a more patient person than your sisters? I hope they appreciate how awesome you are as a Mom, especially in light of this damning sentence:

"I would look at my sister (her child is only 4 months older) getting so fed up with her baby crying that there were many times I took her baby from her so she would calm down. So I think at the root of it, there are some people who are abusive, and there are some who shouldn’t have children."

Let us not forget Barbara Low(sic) Fisher and her vile organization NVIC which endorse the 'vaccines cause SBS' delusion:

Babs Twitter Post:

NVIC "educating" their readership:
This is by Yazbak and reads as if some incoherent drunk wrote it while on a bender... it is literally pointless but does manage to make the bare, unsupported statement about the four children discussed by Yazbak that, "They had not been abused as far as I could tell"; he having "examined" them through their medical histories. (snort)

The next time NVIC "testifies" in front of some state or federal committee on vaccine related legislation or inquiry, it may be appropriate to sent the members of those committees links to the NVIC's disgusting and bizarre vaccines-cause-SBS delusion.


Fully half of all pregnancies aren't planned. What does that say about the parents? Are they young? Do they really want the baby r do they just feel pressured to have it?

Uh, this is quite an assumptive leap here. "Unplanned pregnancy" does not and should not automatically translate to "Immature, irresponsible fools who got knocked up after a drunken night at the quarry," or something.

My second daughter is one of those unplanned pregnancies. My husband and I, a married couple who had one (planned) child already, were using NFP--for various reasons--and basically slipped up one afternoon. When we found out, we were basically thrilled (I had a day or two of "Oh, pregnancy with a two-year-old in the house, this might be a little rough," I admit, especially since our first is developmentally delayed, but it was hardly a tragedy or a problem). It never occurred to us not to keep the baby; it never occurred to us that there would be any pressure on us to do so.

I am certainly not the only married woman I know of who had an unplanned pregnancy, and I'm certainly not the only married woman I know of who viewed that unplanned pregnancy as a delightful, joyful surprise and a blessing.

My unplanned baby is the apple of my eye. I have never regretted having her for even a nanosecond. Neither has my husband. When she was born, I was thirty-one years old and we'd been married for five years, we owned our own home, we were settled and happy.

But she was still unplanned, and still counts as one of those unplanned babies as far as statistics go. It's kind of nasty and rude to categorize me, or any of the other married women I know with their "happy surprise" children, as degenerate sluts who view their children as burdens just because we didn't spend months trying to get pregnant. Adopted babies are abused; babies whose parents underwent numerous rounds of fertility testing are abused; babies whose parents tried for months to get pregnant are abused. Abuse is not stopped simply by ensuring every baby is planned for. I realize you didn't mean to give offense, but married adults can have birth control slip-ups or errors or simply birth control that isn't 100% effective (as no birth control is save for abstinence). That doesn't make us irresponsible and it doesn't mean we're not happy to be pregnant or have children, and to imply that we probably were/are is kind of lousy.

By Dorothy Mantooth (not verified) on 07 May 2015 #permalink

BTW, @Kiiri, I do completely agree with your assessment of hospital newborn/new parent classes as "total baloney." I will never forget sitting in the class when my second was born, watching new mothers be shamed into tears by the "instructor"'s insistence that if they dared to give their infants a drop of formula their babies would probably be malformed and stupid and would never bond with them correctly and it must mean they don't love their babies. (I openly called her on this crap; she hated me. And I was breastfeeding! But I was so furious at her deliberate efforts to make the "formula" moms feel inadequate by using a bunch of woo-filled nonsense--many of them were young, first mothers, too, which made it worse--that I couldn't keep my mouth shut. When you make a woman who gave birth the day before start crying because you're implying she must not really love her baby or want it to have a good life, you need to STFU and think about why you hate women so much--and you do not belong at the head of a new-baby class.)

By Dorothy Mantooth (not verified) on 07 May 2015 #permalink

@ Dorothy,

Count me among the unplanned. After a miscarriage Mom was told she couldn't have any more kids and when doing the same things that led to my two older brothers for over a decade it seemed pretty likely they were right.

Well apparently time heals all wombs and I came along completely unexpectedly.

"I do completely agree with your assessment of hospital newborn/new parent classes as “total baloney.”"

Mileage varies, I'm sure. The ones my hospital gave were extremely helpful. They did not attempt to shame anyone for whatever they chose for feeding their child, as long as it would be nutritionally adequate. I feel lucky, given the experiences others have described at their hospitals.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 07 May 2015 #permalink

@KayMarie: How cool! I have to admit, my "surprise" pregnancy was more fun than my first; partly, I'm sure, because second pregnancies are usually easier, but also because it just seemed neat and exciting that it just happened. Like she was just determined to be part of our family or something, if that doesn't sound too goopy. :-)

@Callie Arcale: Oh, that's good to hear. I'm glad at least some new mothers aren't fed misinformation and shamed. Let's hope maybe that was the start of a new trend?

By Dorothy Mantooth (not verified) on 07 May 2015 #permalink


Your emotionally charge rant does not change the fact some people shouldn't have children, Kilri was right. Maybe her comments hit a little too close to home for you.

Sadly, here we go again...yet again.

Baby Thalia Vida, died nine days after 4-month checkup (and vaccinations, after which everything seemed fine until 8 days later). Not only was she showing signs of SBS but there are allegations that she'd swallowed some "black pills" which turned out to be opiates--sounds like black tar heroin--that were on the floor of the home, as well.…

And an update from June, in which it appears that the mother's family may be accepting the SBS probability but the father's is not:…

The comments on the first article are something else, especially with the anti-vaxxers repeatedly posting links from a site called, laughably, "Healthwyze," which they insist "prove" that vaccine-induced encephalitis is exactly the same as SBS. It honestly does not seem to occur to them or bother them that they are making excuses for a suspected murderer--a suspected murderer they do not know personally and have zero reason (beyond their own blind activism) to believe might not have shaken his baby daughter hard enough to cause traumatic brain injury.

(Incidentally, I just stumbled across that blog today, and I think you might like it, Orac [and fellow readers here]. It's written by some former anti-vax nuts whose daughter was diagnosed with ASD despite not being vaccinated--which made them rethink their illogical positions on a lot of things. They're taking a lot of heat from the nuts over their reporting of the Thalia case [and of course their positions on many other issues] but standing their ground.)

(I am not affiliated with the above blog and do not know the individuals who run it, btw. I just think it's a pretty good blog.)

By Dorothy Mantooth (not verified) on 02 Jul 2015 #permalink

@ Dorothy:

'whose daughter was diagnosed with ASD despite not being vaccinated-which made them rethink their illogical positions'

Interestingly, AoA's Kim Stagliano blames her unvaccinated daughter's ASD on her OWN childhood vaccines.

HOWEVER Tony Bateson of Oxford, who comments there, holds that there are no unvaccinated children with autism.

One of the woo-meisters I survey has a 2 year pre-pregnancy de-toxification / lifestyle change/ de-stressing/ spirituality protocol which should eliminate ALL causes of ASDs, LDs and as well as ills to which mortals succumb.

Complicated woo insures that any failures can be blamed on parents leaving an intrinsically necessary component out.

-btw- I've seen that blog.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 02 Jul 2015 #permalink