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Child Abuse Negl. 1997 Oct;21(10):1009-14.

The Whiplash Shaken Infant Syndrome: has Caffey's syndrome changed or have we changed his syndrome?

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Department of Pediatrics, Medical College of Wisconsin, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53201, USA.



The aim of this study is to examine the data used by John Caffey in his description of the Whiplash Shaken Infant Syndrome and compare it with recent data in an attempt to determine whether the syndrome that he described has changed, or if we have changed his syndrome into what we now call The Shaken Infant Syndrome.


This study examined recent literature describing the Shaken Infant Syndrome, and compared it to Caffey's descriptions. In addition, a retrospective review of 71 children under the age of 3 years identified as having a subdural hematoma caused by other than accidental means during 54 months was done. This data was compared to data from the 27 case examples offered by Caffey in 1972 and his other descriptions in 1974 and 1946.


A review of recent literature shows that our definition of Shaken Infant Syndrome today includes cases where impact trauma was involved. In contrast to Caffey's descriptions, we found the perpetrator to be more often male, fractures to be more often to ribs rather than long bones, and admissions of shaking and other trauma more often made.


Our findings demonstrate that not only have we changed the diagnostic parameters from Caffey's original Whiplash Shaken Infant Syndrome, but the syndrome has also changed to reflect changes in medical diagnosis and in our society.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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