A Daubert Analysis of Abusive Head Trauma/Shaken Baby Syndrome
Posted: 29 Aug 2011 Last revised: 28 Mar 2012
Date Written: August 29, 2011
The modern scientific literature concerning the diagnosis of physical child abuse has developed for nearly a half century, bench marked by The Battered Child Syndrome. A few articles in the last two decades have challenged the science for diagnosing one type of physical child abuse, Abusive Head Trauma (AHT), or what is more commonly known as Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). These limited challenges by a very few physicians have been used to support law review commentary arguing that there is insufficient science to support convictions for AHT/SBS. This review examines the medical and legal issues surrounding AHT/SBS. It summarizes current case law related to expert testimony on AHT, performs a detailed analysis of the leading and current medical articles on AHT/SBS, with a particular focus on the best recent research, and then concludes with a Daubert analysis of the best current evidence-based medicine surrounding AHT/SBS. In conclusion, the author offers some options for the onerous burdens placed upon trial judges in sorting through the admissibility issues of complex medical expert testimony.
Keywords: Daubert, Abusive Head Trauma, Shaken Baby Syndrome, Child Abuse
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