The recession has taken its toll on families in varying ways. From lost wages and jobs, changes in spending habits, and decisions to delay expanding the family are just the tip of the iceberg in some homes. The stress can be overwhelming and, according to a new report, appears to have lead to a sharp increase in the number of babies affected by Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) since the economic bubble burst in 2007.

Researchers at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh found a 55 percent increase in the number of abusive head trauma cases beginning in December 2007. The top cause of child abuse deaths in the US, shaken baby syndrome affects up to 1,300 tots each year. According to the study, dads and boyfriends were the primary perpetrators, Two-thirds of the victims were admitted to intensive care and 16 percent of the died as a result of their injuries.

The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome notes that there are various degrees of SBS and identifies the following as symptoms of the abuse:

  • Lethargy / decreased muscle tone
  • Extreme irritability
  • Decreased appetite, poor feeding or vomiting for no apparent reason
  • Grab-type bruises on arms or chest are rare
  • No smiling or vocalization
  • Poor sucking or swallowing
  • Rigidity or posturing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Head or forehead appears larger than usual or soft-spot on head appears to be bulging
  • Inability to lift head
  • Inability of eyes to focus or track movement or unequal size of pupils

If you suspect a child has been abused, contact your local authorities as soon as possible.