A shaken baby syndrome researcher reconsiders

British neuropathologist Waney Squier spent many years as an expert witness in court assisting in the prosecution of defendants accused of causing Shaken Baby Syndrome. Then a closer engagement with the evidence caused her to change her mind — and the story that follows, which she tells in this TEDx Wandsworth talk, must be heard to be believed. Sue Luttner has more for the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism. More on the story: Jon Robins, The Justice Gap; Theodore Dalrymple, Spectator.

More: “Judge orders release of woman who served 11 years behind bars in grandson’s death” [Marisa Gerber, L.A. Times; earlier on shaken baby syndrome] More about Deborah Tuerkheimer’s 2014 book Flawed Convictions, which I haven’t seen, is here.


  • It is important to note that no one could ever do experiments on babies to see what actual shaken death autopsies showed. I bet no one ever tested it on pigs or dogs either. A good story is satisfying to the mind and then we don’t look farther. It is a common problem in all realms of endeavor.

    • It’s also important to note that experiments can be done with child or infant sized crash test dummies fitted with accelerometers, and one can also review the medical records of infants and children injured or killed in automobile or other traumatic accidents.

      Which is exactly what has been done, as Dr. Squier discussed in her presentation. Wonder of wonders, the results of those studies don’t support and contradict the shaken baby hypothesis.

      This is a superb presentation that every practitioner of criminal law, whether prosecution or defense, ought to view more than once.