Iceland Shaken Baby Syndrome Case Reopened? Skip to content

Iceland Shaken Baby Syndrome Case Reopened?

By Iceland Review

Dr. Waney Squier, a professor in neuropathology at Oxford University, stated on RÚV’s news magazine Kastljós on Wednesday that the traditional diagnosis for shaken baby syndrome is obsolete and that the findings of the autopsy of a nine-month-old boy who died in Iceland in 2001, leading to the conviction of a man for accidental manslaughter, was inconclusive.

The man, Sigurður Guðmundsson, was given an 18-month sentence in 2003 but has always maintained his innocence. Approximately one year ago, his lawyer hired Dr. Squier to evaluate the evidence in the case. He is now requesting the reopening of the case.

Sigurður explained on Kastljós on Wednesday how he had found the boy, who was among 21 children in a daycare center he and his ex-wife ran, to be unconscious in a stroller in a heated garage where he had been put to sleep earlier.

The baby was breathing but wouldn’t wake up. Sigurður handed the boy to his wife and called an ambulance. He never woke up and died at the hospital almost 48 hours later.

The autopsy concluded that the boy had three symptoms coinciding with shaken baby syndrome, or abusive head trauma, as it is now known.

The autopsy report, in addition to the assumed strain of being responsible for so many children in daycare, led to Sigurður’s conviction. He was found to have shaken the baby brutally, leading to his death.

Sigurður stated he had never shaken the boy. Dr. Squier claimed that the symptoms mentioned in the autopsy report could be the result of head trauma but don’t prove that the baby was shaken. Had the boy been shaken brutally, he would have bruises and fractured ribs, she reasoned.

Dr. Squier mentioned other possible reasons for his death, including infection leading to a blood clot in the brain and Vitamin D shortage. The boy had been ill in the days prior to his death.

Shaken baby syndrome has been disputed in recent years. In Sweden, courts doubt that verdicts can be based on symptoms thought to indicate the syndrome, ruv.is reports.

Click here to listen to the interview with Dr. Squier (in the second half of the video).

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