Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Shaken baby expert witness wins High Court appeal

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: (Published 08 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i5985

Rapid Response:

Re: Shaken baby expert witness wins High Court appeal

Medical experts writing reports for both the prosecution and the defence in SBS may often overlook:

1. “The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” if their reports are inaccurate, withhold vital information to be politically correct, and not appropriately referenced.

2. Doctors are not scientists (Richard Smith 2004) .

3. Most doctors ‘believe’ that vaccines are safe and effective despite the existing overwhelming body of published medical research to the contrary. Most may fail to continue educating themselves post graduation, relying on what they were taught in medical schools. Much of that knowledge may became obsolete.

4. In their reports many doctors may fail to disclose the vaccination status of the SBS and ill babies. One exception is Southall et al. (1987), even though they did not causally link the administered vaccines to the observed deaths. A discerning reader can make up his/her own mind. I can see the clustering of those death along the critical days (Scheibner 2004).

5. Many doctors may not see the difference between facts and hearsay. Many may fail to read ‘old’ (published before1990), seminal medical papers. Instead resorting to hypothesising, speculating, politicising and failing to properly recognise and analyse all material facts thus forgetting that this might amount to withholding the vital information from the courts. They may ignore the administered vaccines or deny vaccines’ deleterious effects even though these are listed in medical, hospital and pathology and postmortem reports and instead rely on meaningless political disclaimers that the causal link has not been proven. After Sally's untimely death in 2007, Neville Hodgkinson wrote in the Spectator,”Even paediatricians who gave testimony on Mrs Clark’s behalf told defence lawyers that if vaccination were mentioned as a possible cause of Harry’s death, they would dispute it. With hindsight, it is clear that this was a bad decision.”

6. The experts may display the “kill the messenger” attitude by blaming the innocent parents and other carers or a person who was last alone with the affected baby, thus “showing not only a lack of experience with severe childhood illnesses and death but also an attitude of suspicion and/or hostility probably contributed to these misdiagnoses Kirschner and Stein 1985)..”

7. The empathy and responsibility for the real harm done to innocent parents who are incarcerated and their remaining children taken away and put into foster homes or even adopted straight away and lost for ever, even when the accused parents are acquitted. Moreover, some 200 US parents were executed for SBS.

8. Even the infamous Maximilien Robespierre, who during the French Revolution sent thousands of innocent people under the guillotine, is quoted as saying to the effect of: “It is better for 100 criminals to go free than one innocent person incarcerated.” Others are credited with similar statements. Still valid to this day.

The alleged act of shaking babies resulting in the injuries considered pathognomic of SBS has never been witnessed, and remains, according to a US judge, a factitious, misdiagnosis carefully fabricated by medical doctors.

I urged the lawyer in one case of SBS to go for an appeal simply on the basis of insufficient evidence in the first instance. He did just that and won. The convicted father was completely exonerated with no criminal conviction. This may apply to other parents accused of shaking their babies. Where is the evidence of shaking?

Guthkelch (1953) wrote “It should be emphasised that infantile subdural effusion is not a rare condition. Study of the records of the Royal Manchester Children’s hospital for the four years covered by this series shows that, of all surgical conditions of the central nervous system occurring in the first two years of life, only spina bifida and hydrocephalus were seen more often than subdural haematoma…The series here reported comprises 24 cases – 18 cases of subdural haematoma in infancy; 5 cases complicating purulent meningitis; and 1 case of subdural effusion in a patient with sagittal sinus thrombosis…Most cases occur in the first few months of life (table 1). Of the series reported here 11 developed symptoms before the age of 3 months, five between 3 and 6 months and only two thereafter”. [Those are the ages when the first 3 DPT + Polio vaccines are administered.]. The causes were birth injuries and precipitate labour, prematurity, not known, twins and ‘head injury’ two weeks before admission, and not known” (7 years old child). Guthkelch quoted 17 references with similar cases.

One wonders what made Guthkelch (1971) change from a reasonable analysis and description of common natural birth injuries and infections in his 1953 article to a highly hypothetical and undocumented assertion that subdural haematoma is one of the commonest features of the battered child syndrome, albeit without external marks of injury on the head. He claimed that ”This suggests that in some cases repeated acceleration/deceleration rather than direct violence is the cause of the haemorrhage, the infant having been shaken rather than struck by its parents. Such an hypothesis might also explain the remarkable frequency of the findings of subdural haematoma in battered children as compared with its incidence in head injuries of other origin, and the fact that it is often bilateral.” A documented fact is that the 1970s was the time of intensified vaccination with corresponding major increase in vaccine injuries and death. Not even the prevalence of SBS ages between 2-6 months alerted Guthkelch to vaccines.

Hiller (1972) described bizarre bone fractures ascribed to child abuse as characteristic of scurvy.

Scheibner (2008) explained that the so called rib fractures are a separation of ribs at costo-chondral junctions due to scurvy.

Scurvy used to be referred to as haemorrhagic disease or haemorrhagic diasthesis (Gilman and Tanzer (1932)). Toxic vaccines cause an acute scurvy which results in haemorrhaging into several organs (Scheibner 2004).

Late in his life, Guthkelch admitted his error (Scheibner 2016), yet new SBS cases are still popping up. The latest one in the UK just a few days ago. Sweden decided that SBS is a non-existent diagnosis. Enough is enough.

References and suggested articles

Richard Smith 2004. Doctors are not scientists. BMJ June 19; 328(7454):0.

Southall et al.1987. Sudden and unexpected death between 1 and 5 years. Arch Dis Child;62: 700-702.

Scheibner 2004. Dynamics of critical days as part of the dynamics of non-specific stress syndrome discovered during monitoring of babies’ breathing with Cotwatch breathing monitor. .J ACNEM; 23(3): 1-5.

Guthkelch 1953. Subdural effusions in infancy: 24 cases. BMJ; January 31: 233-239.

Hiller 1972. Battered – or not – the reappraisal of metaphyseal fragility. Am J Roentgenol Radiol Therapy & Nuclear Medicine; 114(2): 241-245.

Scheibner 2008. Unexplained fractures explained. rapid response 12 December 2008.

Scheibner 2014. Is animal research sufficiently evidence based to be a cornerstone of biomedical research? (The relevance of animal research for humans.) BMJ 2014: 348:g3387 (published 30 May 2014):348:g3387).

Guthkelch 1971. Infantile subdural haematoma and its relationship to whiplash injuries. BMJ; 2: 430-431.

Kirschner and Stein. 1985. The mistaken diagnosis of child abuse- a form of medical abuse? Arch Dis Chjld; 139(9): 873-875.

Amiel 1976. The effects of Bordetella pertussis on cerebral vascular permeability. Br J Exp Pathol;’ 57:653-662.

Steinman et al. 1982. Murine model of pertussis vaccine encephalopathy: linkage to H-2 . Nature 299: 736-740.

Steinman et al. 1985. Pertussis toxin is required for pertussis vaccine encephalopathy. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA; 82 : 8733-8736.

Bergman and Munoz. 1978. Vascular permeability: changes in the central nervous system in rats with hyperacute experimental allergic encephalomyelitis induced with the aid of a substance from Bordetella pertussis. Infection and Immunity; 21 (2): 627-637.

Gilman and Tanzer. 1932. Subdural hematoma in infantile scurvy. JAMA; Sep17: 989-991.

Scheibner 2016. The law is not equipped to consider scientific dispute. BMJ 2016; 352:i1768. (published 31 March 2016).

Competing interests: No competing interests

30 November 2016
Dr Viera Scheibner (PhD)
scientist/author retired
Blackheath NSW Australia