Dr. F. Edward Yazbak is a pioneer and advocate for child safety in an area that most people are completely unaware of, namely cases where vitamin deficiencies are mistaken for Shaken Baby Syndrome. There's tremendous legal injustice going on in this area, and it can happen to anyone.
If you're pregnant, planning a pregnancy, or have young children, you won't want to miss this crucial discussion!
You're a new parent or parent-to-be, and you're doing everything you can to make sure your new family member is as healthy as can be. From prenatal classes to natural childbirth to breast-feeding and even choosing infant-friendly bedding and toys, you're on the right track to bringing up baby in the best way possible.
Or are you?
Sarah Garvey's Heartbreaking Story: Could this Happen to You?
Sarah Garvey was 24 when she gave birth to twins in Massachusetts in October 2006. This had been her first pregnancy, and repeated ultrasounds had revealed problems with one of the twins.
"They need to be born as soon as possible," Sarah's OB-GYN told her, so she checked in to a hospital the next day, a Friday, to have her labor induced.
As Pitocin – a hormone that causes uterine contractions – dripped into her bloodstream, she never could have imagined that in just a few weeks, she and her babies' father, Jamaal Williams, not only would be burying the little boy that was about to be born, but would be accused of killing him, and of nearly killing his twin sister.
How did this happen?
What did this young couple do that triggered a nightmare that they're still living today?
Even though they've never been arrested or formally charged with harming their children, Massachusetts child protective services (CPS) say Sarah and Jamaal shook their babies, causing their brains to hemorrhage, breaking their bones, and inflicting injuries so severe that the little boy, Liam, died.
His twin sister, Paige, survived and social workers took her into custody. When the couple had another daughter, Melina, this past May, CPS took her too, at birth.
Today, the grieving parents deny any wrong-doing, and Massachusetts authorities have yet to charge them with anything. Yet CPS continues to refuse to give the little girls back. It sounds incredible. How can you not be charged with a crime, yet be treated as if you were guilty of it?
The shocking answer is that this is something that CAN, and does, happen to hundreds of unsuspecting parents across the U.S. every year. It's called Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), sometimes referred to as abusive head trauma (AHT) or non-accidental head trauma.
Shaken Baby Syndrome, or Something Entirely Different?
For more than 30 years, the "triad" of injuries that define SBS have been retinal hemorrhages, bleeding around the brain, and brain swelling that have been caused by shaking a baby.
Other SBS injuries include blood spots in the eyes, lethargy, semi-consciousness, seizures, vomiting, extreme irritability, bruises on the body, and broken bones. According to Massachusetts Citizens for Children, this form of "child abuse" is reported at least 4,000 times a year in pediatric hospitals across the U.S.
Of that number, approximately 1,300 experience severe or fatal injuries.
The National Shaken Baby Coalition claims that a baby "can fall three stories and not get as seriously injured as a shaken baby," and proponents of SBS legislation and prosecution argue vehemently that absolutely nothing but shaking a baby can cause these injuries.
But what these self-proclaimed child advocates don't say is that these same symptoms can appear with other serious medical conditions, including adverse reactions to vaccines, as well as vitamin deficiencies.
According to vaccine manufacturers' package inserts, any one or combination of the vaccines given at an infant's 2-month check-up can cause severe adverse reactions such as encephalopathy (brain damage), thrombocytopenia (bruising and bleeding on the brain, and/or hemorrhaging), and hyptonic-hyporesponsive episodes (muscle limpness and unresponsiveness) – all symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome!
Numerous studies have also shown that deficiencies in Vitamin C, D, and K can result in conditions that mimic SBS, including the appearance of broken bones in an X-ray!
Undetected injuries at birth can also cause intracranial hematomas,but you don't hear that from SBS zealots bent on convicting a parent of child abuse when a baby shows up at a hospital with these types of symptoms. So how do states and child protective services distinguish which is which?
They simply assume that any baby that presents with these symptoms has been shaken, and parents or caregivers are the ones presumed guilty of doing it. Case closed, no further investigation required.
Admit it: You Killed Your Baby
Like Sarah and Jamaal, in most cases, grieving parents accused of this horrendous crime steadfastly deny harming their children, either accidentally or intentionally.
But, unlike Sarah and Jamaal, many of these parents are sitting in jail, either awaiting trial for, or convicted of, killing their babies.
What's tragic is that it's very possible that if these jailed parents, or Sarah and Jamaal, had known what I'm about to share with you here, that they may have been able to not only defend themselves before authorities could accuse them of shaking their babies, but perhaps even saved their babies' lives.
What's most important is that every parent needs to know this information almost from conception, or at the very least, before their baby is born.
Like most mothers-to-be, Sarah placed all her trust in her attending physicians and the hospital where she checked in that fateful day to have her labor induced. What she didn't realize was that a whole series of events was about to go wrong, beginning with the day she checked in – a Friday.
Studies show that Fridays and weekends are the worst days to schedule medical procedures of any kind, primarily because of lower staff levels. Sarah found this out too late.
As I mentioned earlier, the reason Sarah's labor was being induced was because her OB-GYN had determined that her babies needed to be born right away.
But when the babies still hadn't made their appearance by Saturday morning, the weekend nurses turned off the labor-inducing Pitocin, telling Sarah they didn't have enough staff to deliver twins on the weekend!
That's right. Hospital staff decided that Sarah's twins could wait until Monday, even though her personal physician had said on Thursday that the babies were in danger, and needed to be delivered as soon as possible!
From there, it was all downhill for Sarah and her babies as they went through the following events which either should have not happened at all, or should have been addressed differently:
- Both babies developed jaundice and Liam's bilirubin was significantly elevated
- Both twins were given multiple vaccines on their 2-month check-ups, including hepatitis B, even though Liam's condition should have warranted waiting on his shots;
- Once Liam stopped breathing three days later, emergency workers quickly assumed that he had been shaken, and their suspicions were confirmed by a Child Protection Expert who had not personally examined him;
- No one ever considered possible vitamin-deficiency-related problems, or possible other problems, even though an emergency room physician suggested that the multiple broken bones they both had could have been caused by Osteogenesis Imperfecta –also known as "Brittle Bone Disease" or "Lobstein Syndrome," a genetic bone disorder
- Liam was given large doses of heparin (in anticipation of taking his organs for donation), which can cause excessive bleeding, and skew autopsy results
This is just a short list of what happened to Liam and Paige. And, as I said, even though the state has never charged Sarah and Jamaal with hurting their children, CPS assumes they did.
"They just keep telling us this is an ongoing homicide investigation, and that we won't get our daughters back until we tell them who shook the twins, when, and how," Sarah said. "They keep saying, 'Admit it. You killed your baby.' But there's nothing to confess – we didn't do anything."
If it Can Happen to Anyone, How Can You Protect Yourself – and Your Child?
Dr. Edward Yazbak is has spent the past 10 years following SBS and autism cases, and conducting research on the relationship between the proliferation of multiple vaccines and vaccine adverse events.
He's also an expert witness in litigation involving autism, Shaken Baby Syndrome, and vaccine injury, and he doesn't believe the Garvey twins were child abuse victims.
"Twins are an abnormal pregnancy, anyway," Yazbak said. "So that comes with its own set of risks. There also could have been (brain) hemorrhaging at birth, or a vitamin deficiency – a lack of Vitamin C, D or K – or a metabolic problem.
All of this could have caused bruising and bleeding. Or it could have been the vaccines the twins had just before the boy died."
A key factor in Liam's condition was his still elevated bilirubin levels.
"He also had coagulopathy (a bleeding disorder that prevents the blood from clotting properly), and elevated liver function levels," Dr. Yazbak said.
"If you look at all the information, you'll see that it just doesn't stand to science. For example, the girl – they said she had multiple fractures all over her body, including two or more in the same place. But that's medically and mechanically impossible.
"Then later, X-rays showed that her body had healed only a month later. It had to be a metabolic syndrome disorder, a type of vitamin deficiency, because bone fractures don't heal that way. They were lesions, not fractures."
History is full of examples like this, Yazbak said, such as the British au pair accused of shaking the child she was caring for in 1997. A recent case he's worked on is that of a couple whose baby was taken by CPS even though there were a multitude of reasons, including possible adverse reactions to vaccinations, to explain the findings.
"Then the state went ahead and continued the vaccinations, and the baby had a subdural (hemorrhaging) again. What's interesting is that, like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) this always seems to happen when babies are 2, 4 and 6 months old – the same age as when they get their vaccines", Yazbak said.
"I am very much an infectious disease man, and very much for vaccines. But why not admit vaccine dangers, that some babies can be injured like this, instead of this shaken baby nonsense?
This is the only crime in the world where you're presumed guilty. Many of these parents are perfectly innocent."
Sadly, the true tragedy is that more and more parents are being accused of shaking their babies. That's why you need to know how to protect yourself before it happens to you.
Prenatal Prevention and after Baby Arrives
Dr. David Ayoub is a clinical radiologist and physician whose work I admire. Most recently, I interviewed Dr. Ayoub about the relationship between aluminum – an adjuvant in vaccines – and Alzheimer's, ADHD, and autism.
But Dr. Ayoub also has extensive experience in distinguishing true fractures from lesions caused by vitamin deficiencies such as rickets.
"There is a high prevalence of D deficiency in mothers," Dr. Ayoub said. "In fact, studies show that only one-third of caucasian babies are born with normal D levels. With African American babies, only 5 percent are normal."
"Then with twins, there is increased pressure on the mom to have enough calcium to get to the bones," he said. "And, definitely twins restrict fetal movement, so there also is a 25 percent higher risk of rickets. "There are also other questions to address, for example, was the mother on anti-acids? An excessive amount of anti-acids can reduce the absorption of calcium and Vitamin D."
For new mothers, Ayoub offers several ways to recognize and address possible vitamin deficiencies:
- Look for muscle weakening. The uterus is a muscle. Women who go into labor but can't deliver is a classic sign of possible vitamin deficiency, Ayoub said. "Then Pitocin is given, and that can crush the placenta and possibly cause rib fractures to the babies in utero," he said.
- The need for Caesarean sections also is a sign of muscle weakness and vitamin deficiency.
- Bacterial vaginosis, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and musculoskeletal pains also are signs.
"Infection is a hallmark of Vitamin D deficiency," Dr. Ayoub said.
"And then there's the hepatitis B vaccine, which uses aluminum hydroxide as its adjuvant, and which can cause vitamin deficiency."
The Garvey twins received the hepatitis vaccine shortly before Liam died. When they came home, both their eyes were bloodshot, Sarah Garvey said. According to Ayoub, this is one of the signs of aluminum toxicity.
"Aluminum hydroxide is a known cause of rickets," Ayoub said.
"It's well-known that excessive aluminum exposure will cause bone damage. It's also known to impair platelet formation, and to cause Vitamin C and K deficiencies."
Other signs of aluminum toxicity are bleeding everywhere, including delayed bleeding in the head, like Liam had. The bleeding is delayed because the shot is injected into the muscle, which causes the absorption of the aluminum to take longer.
"And if he was jaundiced, the risk would have been even greater," Ayoub said. "In my opinion, this is medical negligence, giving this child this vaccine."
Ayoub has a case right now that involves twins with a similar history as the Garvey babies. "And it's rickets, not child abuse," he said. In a case similar to the Garvey baby's, a chilling commentary was recently made by a local newspaper in Savannah, Georgia, where a young couple is still reeling from the nightmare of being falsely accused of shaking their baby.
According to SavannahNow:
"Pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. David M. Wrubel of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta sees about 50 babies a month, if not more, who show the signs of shaken baby syndrome. He said it's rare that the cases turn out to be something else.
"'Unfortunately, with the majority of cases, it's shaken baby syndrome or some other type of abuse,' Wrubel said. 'There are always the unusual cases, such as chronic subdurals. That does happen, but not frequently.'"
In this case, the anonymous couple was cleared of wrong-doing, and their baby – which was premature and born weighing less than 3 ½ pounds – was properly diagnosed as having chronic subdural hematomas.
However, to get to that point, the couple went through unfathomable amounts of agony and more than $60,000 proving their innocence! I can't tell from the commentary whether this newspaper was trying to show sympathy for the couple or for the system that presumes parents guilty until proven innocent.
But I do know there's something not quite right about an Atlanta neurologist's quote that SavannahNow includes in its article – that he sees "50 babies a month, if not more, who show the signs of SBS or some other type of abuse."
"Unfortunately, with the majority of cases, it's shaken baby syndrome or some other type of abuse,'' Dr. David Wrubel told SavannahNow. "There are always the unusual cases, such as chronic subdurals. That does happen, but not frequently."
FIFTY a month? Or more? All with shaken baby symptoms? This is a chilling statement, especially when you consider that Dr. Wrubel apparently is not all that open to the idea that babies can be – and are – harmed by other conditions.
And that's the problem here – that specialists and health officials have the preconceived notion that anything other than Shaken Baby Syndrome could cause these symptoms.
What Can You Do to Ensure that Your Baby Won't Become an SBS Statistic?
So what can you do to keep these same things from happening to you?
First, Ayoub said, have your vitamin levels checked, so you can know what type of supplements to take, and how much. Sarah Garvey didn't know until her second pregnancy that she was Vitamin D deficient – a critical clue to what was most likely a contributor to her twins' problems.
"It's absolutely stunning, the link between Vitamin D deficiency and things like asthma, arthritis, heart disease, and many auto-immune diseases," Ayoub said.
Since most physicians don't automatically add this to your blood work, it's up to you to request it.
"And then at birth, my suggestion is to take away the hepatitis B shot, and give your babies Vitamin D instead," Ayoub said.
Other things you can do are:
- Make sure you know your babies' vitamin levels; again, that means requesting that your pediatrician check them
- Keep a diary of everything that happens to you during your pregnancy and after. Note your own vitamin levels, as well as any events that could trigger injuries to your baby
- Visit the National Vaccine Information Center's website at nvic.org for information on your rights when it comes to vaccinating your baby, and how to request either a vaccine exemption/waiver or how to request a revised vaccine schedule for your baby
- If your baby dies unexpectedly, demand an autopsy immediately. Don't allow heparin or other drugs to be used for organ harvesting, and make sure that vitamin levels as well as aluminum and other heavy metals, such as mercury, are checked during the autopsy. Also ask that the autopsy include a check for various diseases that could have caused your baby's death.
If the Worst Happens, What Do You Do?
Kim Hart is a trial strategist and facilitator who has been assisting attorneys in defending persons accused of child abuse for more than 18 years. The most important advice Hart has for you is that, when the worst happens and you are falsely accused of hurting your child, get help right away.
A website, falseallegations.org, can guide you in the right direction.
Or, you can contact Hart directly through her website. The important thing is, don't do anything without talking to an attorney who has extensive experience in this area first.
"When the EMTs are called, it's already labeled as child abuse," Hart said. "It's difficult because at that point parents want to give anything they can to help find out what happened. But you shouldn't say anything until you've talked to someone with experience in this."
Work to Change the Law
First, I want to stress that I abhor child abuse of any kind. I know that it's true that some parents do abuse their children, and there are some who even kill them. But parents falsely accused of killing their babies is a travesty that knows no bounds. More and more, parents who are grieving over the death of a child are being twice-struck with orders to 'fess up and admit' they hurt their children.
A double tragedy, though, is that a federal law meant to protect children is the impetus behind this zealousness.
Enacted in 1974, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) is set to renew in 2011. Proposed amendments to the act call for more than $2 billion in additional funding, and for special legislation called the Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention Act.
The money is for things like investigative services and parenting education. But it has no provision or funding for education programs addressing the possibility that anything other than shaking could cause the types of injuries we've discussed here.
"This is a much bigger problem than just bringing attention to it," Hart said. "This legislation tells states to develop registries and require mandatory reporting. It also provides them immunity from lawsuits if they make a mistake in accusing you."
False allegations are always going to be a problem until this 'good faith' immunity is removed from the legislation, and that's going to take some work, Hart added.
Both Hart and I, as well as Drs. Ayoub and Yazbak know this is not an easy fix. But it is something we can work on together, and that is why I'm pledging to continue calling attention to this injustice.
In the meantime, I'm hoping that this information will give new parents the help you need to protect yourself, should the worst happen.