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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

It was a given that Dr Squier would be re-instated in the High Court, her contributions to Humanity
and Medical Science are not in question by anyone. But there is a far bigger issue that stems from
the defaming and prosecution of Dr Squier, and many others, that urgently needs to be addressed.
The question that this case raises is;

- Why has Medicine degenerated into a Religion based on Faith and Belief?

With regard to Science and Shaken Baby Syndrome, a recent survey found that most doctors
believe that if an infant is shaken, that it will produce what is known as the Triad of
signs and symptoms within the brain (1). And yet, what Science tells us is that an athletic male cannot generate sufficient forces to disrupt the Bridging Veins of the Dura Mater, but short falls can (2).

I have struggled for years with the concept where two doctors could examine a patient and have
completely opposing views. If we all adhered to the "Belief" that shaking a baby produces the Triad,
it would leave no room for Scientists (such as Dr Squier), to raise questions. When they stray out of
the "widely held beliefs", they are branded Heretics, Deniers and Non Believers and their
reputations are burned at the proverbial Stake. This is what Medicine has become.

Science relies on questions and constant dialogue. With "Peer Review" a theory is either bolstered or
ruined by constant attack. Anyone falling afoul of the Herd Thinking is to be reported to the GMC
as a Denier and attacked personally rather than challenging their theories. Isn't that called "Witch

But we have to remember that the Witch Hunters of Salem, Mass. were good, God-fearing people
even though they brutally killed their own citizens. Their faith in the Devil was equal to their faith
in God. I have long been a proponent of Evidenced Based Medicine and a Forensic Diagnosis being
reached before allegations being made.

My position is SBS could not exist, not my opinion but scientific fact. In fact I would go further and
suggest that any Physician who "Believes" it it possible to cause the Triad by shaking alone is
dangerous to patients and shouldn't be allowed to practice. SBS has never been more than an
unproven hypothesis and the original theorist Dr Norman Gutkelch has never stood by this theory.
SBS is dangerous because the dogma says that shaking an infant produces the Triad, but short falls
from a couch or bed are not harmful, scientific experiments prove the complete opposite is true. See
note (3) Biomechanical studies prove beyond all doubt that even the most violent shaking can only
produce 1/12 of the Acceleration as a short fall. There are documented cases now of physicians
dismissing babies who have fallen from beds or couches and dismissed because the dogma. Indeed,
even the factually incorrect information on the Crown Prosecution website (4) claims that short falls
are not harmful. A theory, as yet unstudied, is that the Subdural bleeding builds up over days,
increases Intra-cranial Pressure and causes Retinal Haemorrhage (Triad), will never be studied as
long as 90% of physicians believe that short falls are not harmful. Even if you are not familiar with
the mathematics involved in the Biomechanical studies by Lloyd et al, this short video should be
sufficient to see that the current dogma "believed" by the 90% is incompatible with Science. (5) or a
longer version (6) Science shows that falls produce 12 times more force than the most vigorous
shaking. The Brain does not “float” within the skull, the “free space” is taken up with CSF which
maintains a constant pressure. The brain cannot “bounce off” the skull and if it did would more
likely produce Epidural rather than Subdural bleeding. Take an egg and shake it as hard as you like
for as long as you like. When you break open the shell, the yolk will be intact. Now try dropping an
egg from 3 feet (1M) onto concrete.

Dogma must be replaced with Evidence Based Medicine. What we can also learn from
Biomechanics is is that Helmets protect the head, but do not protect the brain. We have seen athletes
such as boxers dying for years in the ring and wrongly believing that the punch and not the fall was
the cause of death. As a physician, if you treat a baby who has fallen from a couch or a bed, don't
be guided in your diagnosis by dogma alone. Dr Gutkelch original theory on shaking was out of
concern for babies dying for inexplicable reasons. We are no further ahead today in the study of
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, other than placing babies on their back, than we were 35 years ago
suggested we look at shaking as a possible cause. Hundreds of caregivers have been caught on
video violently shaking babies, and none of those babies suffered the Triad. In the hundreds of
prosecutions for SBS, nobody has ever witnessed a baby being shaken where the baby was
diagnosed with the Triad. They have even re-branded SBS into Abusive Head Trauma, the
implication being that the Triad is caused by abuse causing trauma, thereby eliminating the
possibility that the 21 other known causes of the Triad. (7)

My hope is that doctors will stop killing babies with junk science. While many are sceptical on
SBS, sticking their head above the parapet leads to a Witch Hunt. Sweden has decided recently that
SBS is unproven. (8) Again, this is all reminiscent of a Moral Panic that occurred hundreds of years
ago in Salem. 90% of people have an unshakable faith in a Devil, a Devil that Science has proven
cannot exist.

It is unbelievable that in 2016 that we are even having this conversation.

Joe Burns
Dublin, Ireland.


Competing interests: No competing interests

30 November 2016
Joe Burns
Churchquarter, Kilwatermoy