Doctor Describes Shaken Baby Syndrome

Knoxville (WVLT) - A week after her parents brought her to children's hospital, suffering what police allege is severe blunt trauma, doctors there are saying little about Baby Amya Porter, except that she remains on the critical list.

Police allege her father has inflicted aggravated child abuse, injuries, they and doctors say, are all too common.

"He really should have charges pressed against, and that baby needs to go to a home where she's gonna be taken care of," says neighbor Katrina Horton.

Such anger and sympathy echo throughout the Tennessee Valley.

But, if, as police allege, Rodney Porter did inflict injuries on his baby daughter Amya, consistent with those found in shaken baby syndrome.

"Often times, it can be permanent, and that's why we worry about this so much," says East Tennessee Children's Hospital Doctor Ryan Redman.

Emergency Room doctors say even short, violent shaking can cause everything from brain and eye damage, to spinal and neck injuries.

Leaving a child blind, or suffering from cerebral palsy

"The head is a lot heavier than the rest of the body, proportionally, so shaking like that can cause a lot of rotation in the brain, inside the skull, and that, itself, can cause significant injury," says Dr. Redman.

Symptoms of damage often show up with dramatic changes in behavior.

A normally calm baby becomes lots more irritable, lethargic, or won't eat.

More obvious signs: convulsions, vomiting, pale, or bluish skin.

But, what should be a relief for any new parent, such injuries are easily to prevent, with patience and common sense.

"These injuries don't happen from someone who's a little awkwardly holding a child or someone who is not familiar with children," Dr. Redman explains. "If you're feeling angry, you need to find someone to talk to, to walk away from the child at that particular moment, and come back when you have more control of the situation."

Police say their investigation remains open.

If convicted of aggravated child abuse, Rodney Porter could get 15 to 25 years in prison.