Research teams from the Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital of the AP-HP, and from Paris Cité University, associated with a team from Inserm, analyzed the evolution of the incidence and severity of the syndrome of shaken baby (SBS) in infants in the Ile-de-France region during the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic (the period 2020-2021) compared to the pre-pandemic period (the period 2017-2019 ).

SBS is the most serious form of child abuse and neglect and the most common cause of traumatic death among infants in high-income countries.

Non-lethal forms of SBS are associated with severe long-term morbidity such as neurodevelopmental disorders (epilepsy, motor and visual impairments, language disorders, intellectual disability, and behavioral abnormalities) resulting in lifelong disability.

In all, 99 infants with SBS were included in the study.

For all these babies, the signs of severity of the violence inflicted were very frequent: 87% had a rupture of the bridge veins (which connect the brain to the internal wall of the skull), 75% retinal hemorrhages, 32% fractures, 26% status epilepticus, and 13% died.

Compared to the pre-pandemic period (2017-2019), the incidence of SBS remained stable in 2020 then doubled in 2021 and its mortality was multiplied by 9, reveals the study.

Concerns had been expressed very early by the scientific, medical and social community on a risk of “explosion” of the incidence of child abuse and neglect, in particular SBS, following the Covid-19 pandemic and containment measures, recall the authors of the study.

For the research teams, the fact that this massive increase in SBS did not occur during the first year of the pandemic when containment and mitigation measures were maximum, but during its second year, could be explained by a accumulation of psychosocial distress.