Some of the most tragic stories we have covered over the years have been about parents and caregivers being wrongly convicted for "child abuse" through what is known as "Shaken Baby Syndrome" (SBS). Doctors and other experts who expose the junk science behind SBS and testify in court have estimated that tens of thousands of parents and caregivers are sitting in prisons wrongly convicted for this failed medical theory. We have compiled an entire eBook on this topic documenting just how we have arrived at this unjust practice that allows the medical kidnapping of children and false incarceration of parents, and we usually sell it for $9.99 but for a limited time we are offering it for free. Fortunately, some judges are now recognizing that SBS is based on junk science, and many cases are beginning to be overturned. Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg writing for The Appeal brings us a report of one judge in New Jersey who is speaking out.
After 4 Years in Prison Father Wrongly Convicted of Murdering His 15-Month-Old Daughter Due to SBS Has Charges Overturned in Alaska
Dr. David Ayoub, a radiologist who has testified in court on numerous occasions during Shaken Baby Syndrome cases testifying that other medical conditions can explain symptoms often used to accuse parents of child abuse, has stated that by his calculations there are about 50,000 parents currently in prison suffering from wrongful child abuse convictions. On July 26, 2019, one father, Clayton Allison, who was in his fourth year of a 30-year prison sentence in Alaska, had his conviction reversed by the Alaska Court of Appeals. Like many cases that are being overturned in recent years where a parent or caregiver is falsely accused of harming a child due to the medical theory of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), a theory many are now calling "junk science," the original judge gave more credence to the State's doctor who was said to be "an expert in the medical evaluation of suspected abuse," then to the medical experts presented by the defense. The doctor whose testimony allegedly brought about this father's wrong conviction, Dr. Cathy Baldwin-Johnson, is listed as a "Primary Care Physician" on the Providence Hospital website. Her specialty is said to be "Family Medicine." A search in the American Board of Pediatrics website turns up a negative result when searching to see if she is certified as a "Child Abuse Specialist." She is apparently not even a pediatrician. She is, however, the medical director of Alaska CARES (Child Abuse Response and Evaluation Services) in Anchorage, Alaska. She has apparently won awards from the "Sisters of Providence" for her dedication "to helping abused children." Her qualification for this role is reportedly that she took a single course on "how to evaluate children for signs of sexual abuse."
Legal Experts: Shaken Baby Diagnosis Leads to “Destruction of Families Beyond Anything Comparable in the Modern History of the American Justice System”
Attorneys Randy Papetti, Paige Kaneb and Lindsay Herf have just published an article in Santa Clara Law Review exposing how the medical community representing Child Abuse Specialists are trying to convince the courts that Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) still has a "consensus" of support in the medical community. In the medical field of pediatrics, Child Abuse Specialists have increasingly been used by Child Protective Social Services (CPS) across the country to take children away from their parents based primarily on the examination of x-rays. The entire field of pediatric child abuse diagnoses has become very controversial, and all across the country parents and caregivers wrongly accused of child abuse by these pediatric Child Abuse Specialists are having their cases overturned, as the courts are recognizing the flaws in diagnosing SBS. The attorneys writing for the Santa Clara Law Review state: "Several serious and growing controversies surround a field of medicine known as child abuse pediatrics. One such controversy involves a diagnosis known as Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) or Abusive Head Trauma (AHT). The diagnosis is based on specific internal findings in a baby or young child’s head and eyes, which, when present, supposedly indicate that the child was violently shaken or otherwise subjected to inflicted head trauma. Within child abuse pediatrics, the diagnosis is endowed with a nearly iconic status and hailed as a critical discovery in our ability to identify abuse in very young children. But outside of child abuse pediatrics, the SBS/AHT diagnosis is very controversial. In fact, the scientific, medical, and legal literature overflow with challenges to the diagnosis’ reliability. And these challenges are not at the margins. Rather, the problems with the diagnosis may be so fundamental as to raise the specter of wrongful convictions and unfair destruction of families beyond anything comparable in the modern history of the American justice system."
For years we have known that the diagnosis of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is flawed. Yet too many innocent parents and caretakers remain wrongfully incarcerated and face wrongful convictions based on this false evidence. In a statement released by the Innocence Network on April 30, the Network explains that although the SBS hypothesis was popularized in the early 2000s, it has never been scientifically validated. In 2016, an independent group of experts appointed by The Swedish Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Assessment of Social Services, one of the oldest medical assessment organizations in the world, published findings that SBS evidence is “insufficient” and unreliable. Still, medical experts continue to erroneously and carelessly assert the validity of SBS accusations in our courts.
Knowing the date the fractures were discovered will never leave your mind. It will be some brutal anniversary you will always acknowledge, even when your "abused" baby is grown with children of their own. The flashbacks of the hospital. The clamps they put in your baby's eyes to check for retinal bleeding. The sound of the MRI machine. Your baby's wailing as they tried to insert an IV. The one nurse who couldn't make eye contact with you, wouldn't make eye contact with you, because she had already made her mind up about the mother whose child has 5 broken bones. The heavy weight you carry around, knowing CPS could be successful in terminating your parental rights, imprisoning you on false accusations. Your name permanently erased from your children's birth certificates. Wishing you could go back to believing every parent whose rights are terminated deserved it. Wishing every headline you read about an abused baby, you don't question if it was a medical disorder. Wishing you didn't know how many other parents are going through this, have been through this, who haven't made it through it. How will I heal from this?
History of Shaken Baby Theories Exposed: How an Elite Group of Pediatric Radiologists Started Medical Kidnapping in the 1940s
The discovery of the x-ray in 1895 gave rise to a group of doctors who claimed to be able to read the x-rays and find the subtle signs of child abuse that everybody else missed. It took decades for their rhetoric to be accepted by the public, but when it was finally embraced, it was not long after that The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974 (CAPTA) was passed by a bipartisan Congress, establishing what we now know as Child Protective Services. Most historians trace the modern era of Child Welfare to the landmark paper, "The Battered-Child Syndrome" by Dr. C. Henry Kempe and his colleagues, published in 1962. The history of this paper, and this line of thinking, owes its roots to a man named Dr. John Patrick Caffey who was born in Utah in 1895, the year that Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen accidentally discovered the x-ray, which was originally known as the "roentgen ray." A new, controversial field of "Pediatric Radiologists" was born, the fore-runners of today's "Child Abuse Pediatricians" and Child Protective Social Services.
Local Media in Peoria Illinois Exposes Medical Kidnapping of Young Child Due to Child Abuse Specialist
A recent 2-part Special Report by 25 News in Peoria, Illinois, examines the issue of innocent parents, who are falsely accused by doctors, whose children are medically kidnapped. Reporter Caitlin Knute says that one local hospital, OSF St. Francis, sees about 20 cases a month of child abuse, which also includes "neglect" cases as well. Reporter Tyler Lopez asks the question that Health Impact News has been asking even before our Medical Kidnap division was established in 2014: "But what if some of those abuse cases were misdiagnosed or the result of a medical condition?" When that happens, there is often no liberty or justice for these families. The 25 News report starts with the story of Baby Chandler, a story that follows the template of dozens of other stories that we have covered here at Health Impact News involving a child with broken bones who actually had a medical condition causing his bone fragility. Dr. Channing Petrak, Child Abuse Pediatrician, accused the parents of abuse, and he was taken from his mother by Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
Pediatric Neuropathologist on Failed Science Behind Shaken Baby Syndrome: Doctors Value Their Careers More than the Truth
There are times throughout human history that a particular hypothesis or another is dogmatically accepted as truth. In the past, those who challenged the group thinking could be hanged or burned at the stake as a heretic. Even today, there can be a high price to pay for disagreeing with the status quo, even when there is strong evidence that shows that the group-think consensus is wrong. Shaken Baby Syndrome is one such hypothesis. Dr. Waney Squier is a world renowned pediatric neuropathologist whose intellectually honest quest for scientific truth has led her to change her belief about Shaken Baby Syndrome. She is joined by many other doctors and researchers who question the message that we have been taught to believe. Her decision almost cost her career, and even now she is banned from testifying in court against Shaken Baby Syndrome. She recently spoke out in a BBC interview about the science that led to her to change her mind about Shaken Baby Syndrome, and how many other doctors also know that the science does not support Shaken Baby Syndrome, but are too afraid to speak out because they fear losing their jobs.
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that a grandmother was freed from prison this month after Loyola Law School's Project for the Innocent became involved. Maria Mendez spent the last 11 years of her life, serving a 25-year sentence for the death of her 9-month-old grandson. She had been convicted of Shaken Baby Syndrome, but attorneys and law students who fight for people who are wrongfully convicted took up her case, pointing out medical evidence that was not considered by the court. Mendez was originally convicted based on the testimony of a Child Abuse Specialist. Dr. Carol Berkowitz is the Director of the Child Abuse Fellowship at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. At one time she served as the President of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is part of the Helfer Society – an elite group of doctors involved with Child Abuse, and in 2014, she won the society's highest award. Despite her many accolades, Dr. Berkowitz failed to consider alternative explanations for the injuries sustained by the grandson of Ms. Mendez. The testimony that she gave reflects the junk science beliefs involved in Shaken Baby Syndrome. Other doctors disagree with her diagnosis, but she was the only doctor to testify 11 years ago.
Study: Shaken Baby Syndrome Diagnosis Lacks Scientific Evidence – Leads to False Accusations of Child Abuse
There has been an increase in recent years in the number of cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome and Abusive Head Trauma. Is this due to an increase in the number of child abusers, better recognition of the symptoms which leads to more accurate diagnoses, or is something else happening? Could it be that increased awareness of Shaken Baby Syndrome in the medical profession has led to overdiagnosis of abuse when there could be other explanations for the symptoms? If it is the latter, then there stands a good chance of innocent parents or caregivers being blamed, perhaps criminally, for something that they did not do. At Health Impact News we have covered many cases of parents who were arrested or lost their children to Child Protective Services after being accused of Shaken Baby Syndrome or abuse even though there are legitimate medical conditions accounting for the symptoms. In what is believed to be the first study of its kind, researchers in Sweden set out to examine this crucial question. They published their findings in the European Journal of Public Health on Tuesday, April 17, 2018: Infant abuse diagnosis associated with abusive head trauma criteria: incidence increase due to overdiagnosis? This study follows up Sweden's Council on Technology and Social Evaluation and their National Medical Ethics report in 2016 that concluded the science behind SBS is not credible.