Shaken Baby Syndrome: Utah ranks second?

Posted at 10:08 PM, Dec 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-15 00:08:11-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A new study suggests Utah has the second highest number of Shaken Baby incidents, next to Nebraska.

Medill Northwestern University complied information and ranked states based upon the number of criminal cases and media reports.

The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome is located in Farmington, and spokesperson Amy Wicks tells FOX 13 News the study may not be accurate. She said the true number of known cases in Utah varies from year to year, but is typically in the dozens. Meanwhile, it's believed between 1,200 and 1,500 cases occur nationally each year.

"Because we don't have central reporting registries, we really don't have good statistics. So we don't know if there are trends of more or fewer cases," Wicks said.

Medical records are closely guarded by federal law, so it's unclear exactly how many cases occur each year.

The criminal justice system does not have numbers at the ready, as no state has a specific charge for the syndrome. Instead, prosecutors charge offenders with things such as child abuse, assault, or even homicide.

To research the exact number of charges associated with Shaken Baby Syndrome would require resources few, if any, organizations have.

The parents of two victims of Shaken Baby Syndrome spoke with FOX 13 News on Saturday.

Emily Bodily's son Elijah died almost 15 years ago. His father confessed to shaking the boy and served 12 years in the Utah State Prison.

Kelly Witte Vance's daughter Sabine was shaken by a babysitter when she was ten months old. She survived, but struggles with day-to-day living, and is just learning to walk.

See the video above for the interviews with both families.

According to The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, most incidents occur when a baby is between two and six months old. More information can be found here.