Expert: Baby injuries a ‘textbook case’

A consultant paediatrician has told the trial of a childminder charged with assaulting a baby that some of the baby’s injuries represented a “classic textbook case” of baby shaking.

Expert: Baby injuries a ‘textbook case’

Registered childminder Sandra Higgins, aged 34, is alleged to have caused the injuries to the 10-month-old baby she was minding at her home.

Ms Higgins, of The Beeches, Drumgola Wood, Cavan town, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the baby on March 28, 2012.

On day four of the trial, Dr Christopher James Hobbs told Sean Gillane, prosecuting, that he specialises in child protection and child abuse cases.

He said he agreed with the findings of Dr Alan Finan, who treated the child and concluded that the mechanism of injury was “likely to be violent shaking”.

“I felt the assessment of child had been very thorough. I couldn’t see any obvious gaps in the information. I felt that the conclusions drawn are those I would have drawn with that information,” Dr Hobbs said.

He said the child had unusual bruises, such as those to the buttocks, the back, and ear. “In an infant of that age the bruises to the back are most unusual. Bruising in the ear really in any age of a child is very worrying because it’s a protected part.

“Ear bruises are unusual in accidental injury but are quite common in non-accidental injury.”

Asked about fingertip bruising on the child’s back, Dr Hobbs said: “This is the classic textbook picture. You would see the bruises of the back in cases of shaken baby. You don’t actually see it all that often.”

He told Remy Farrell SC, defending, that the ability to age bruises was very unpredictable.

Dr Julie Mack, who specialises in paediatric radiology, said that the bleeding she identified on scans of the child’s brain did not represent the rupture of larger blood vessels associated with baby shaking.

The trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court continues.

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