The Nanny Murder Case: Shaken Baby Syndrome on Trial
In 1997, a young British nanny charged with murder brought shaken baby syndrome into the national spotlight, and raised a scientific debate that continues to shape child abuse cases today.
Louise Woodward was charged with shaking a baby in her care to death, and the subsequent trial in Boston dominated the headlines for months, focusing attention on a little known diagnosis called shaken baby syndrome, now referred to as abusive head trauma.
Today, scores of other caregivers are accused of injuring or killing a baby by shaking every year. But some doctors and lawyers believe the syndrome is being diagnosed too frequently and that debate is playing out in courtrooms around the country. Over 200 cases have fallen apart since doctors started challenging the diagnosis, with some defendants released after spending more than a decade in jail.