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A Diagnosis of Guilt


Is the infamous “triad” indicative of some “non-accidental trauma” or that a baby that has been shaken? Sure, it could be. Most experts would agree that it is possible – but, experts diverge when the reason for a medico-legal diagnosis of child abuse is made because a Doctor can’t find any other cause. Child abuse experts often diagnose Shaken Baby Syndrome when there is a complete lack of any outward signs of abuse. And this diagnosis leads to many wrongful convictions. (After reading my article, see The Guardian, Criminal Legal News, and The Marshall Project as well). This is why we fight for you. Wrongful accusations are the norm with Shaken Baby Syndrome. We fight the prosecution, the scientists, the doctors, and the state agencies accusing you or your loved one of abuse.


There is a significant push by medical schools, corporations, advocacy groups and others to ensure that any sighting of the “triad” is considered child abuse. A complete lack of injuries and lack of direct evidence to explain the “triad” is commonly used by your accuser to bolster the diagnosis of “Abusive Head Trauma.” There is a lot of grant and donation money fueling this fire as well, furthering the medical bias. Even the Physician that initiated the “Triad” push in 1972 says that the “Triad” is a hypothesis based upon no scientific evidence. We have a monster of a problem when medical professionals continue to operate under the belief that “since we don’t know the cause, it must be child abuse.” That is the current state of medicine. Individuals are being arrested and jailed. Families are being torn apart and destroyed. There are serious consequences based on a complete lack of actual evidence. There is a problem of epic proportions. 


The “Triad”


The “Triad” consists of these three signs: Subdural hemorrhage (bleeding under the dural matter of the brain), retinal bleeding, and encephalopathy (brain swelling). 


Healthcare providers are trained to send their infant or toddler patients to a “Child Abuse Expert” when confronted with the Triad. These experts are then looking for a possible diagnosis of “Abusive Head Trauma” (AHT) or “Shaken Baby Syndrome” (SBS). Experts admit that shaking is not the only cause of these symptoms, but continue to wrongfully maintain that regardless of the cause it is “abusive” or “non-accidental.”


AHT is a diagnosis of elimination. If the Doctor rules out other known ailments, then they diagnose AHT through a process of elimination. However, experienced experts should concede that Abusive Head Trauma is merely a hypothesis that has been advanced to explain findings that are not yet fully understood. Many will not admit this. Their livelihood depends upon it. Instead, they dig their heels in on the “certainty” of their findings despite overwhelming studies showing they are likely wrong.  


Doctors do not know everything there is to know about medicine and the human body. Far from it. And it is obvious from all the competing studies. But in thousands of child abuse cases, the judges and juries are led to believe that the only possible diagnosis must be abuse by the caretaker or parent. (Perhaps we should continue to do Lobotomies on the mentally ill since they were so successful in the past?)

What about other injuries?

It is logical to think that healthcare providers would not suspect abuse unless they were to see some external signs or symptoms of actual physical abuse. Signs such as scalp swelling, skull fractures, brain injury, rib fractures, limb fractures, internal organ injury, neck injury, and retinal hemorrhages that extend to the periphery of the inner eyeball. But many Child Abuse Experts will diagnose AHT when there are no other signs of abuse. This leads to innocent parents or caretakers losing their children and being jailed.




Brian M. Latuga, Esq.’s background in chemistry, emergency medicine, law enforcement, and prosecution, give him the background to vigorously fight accusations of Shaken Baby and Abusive Head Trauma. He is well-studied in this area and is passionate about educating judges and juries on “bad medicine," "junk science," and the sloppy use of flawed medical studies. Any accusation of child abuse is serious and can lead to the permanent destruction of families and lives. To discuss a case involving a Child Protective Order or criminal charges involving child abuse or Shaken Baby in Virginia, call (757) 687-3657, or submit your contact information here, to request a free and confidential consultation.


For some additional brief history on this “diagnosis” and the basic problems associated with it, see the Statement of the Innocence Network on Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma. Hundreds of articles and publications exist that refute this diagnosis. I have read and studied many to help my clients fight these accusations.

Not every case is the same, and all have numerous factors that must be analyzed. By no means is this a full legal analysis of this topic. This short article is not legal advice nor should it be considered legal advice. The sole purpose is to shed some light on Shaken Baby and Abusive Head Trauma.


Images showing (a) subdural hemorrhage and (b) retinal bleeding

This CT Scan of a child’s head is from an actual “abuse” case we litigated. This child showed each sign of the "Triad" and no other signs of abuse. The parents were exonerated in court with the help of our medical experts and vigorous cross examination of the Commonwealth’s "child abuse" expert. We showed that the child's injuries were from a violent and difficult birth.

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