Shaken baby syndrome ‘is child abuse’

(Courtesy image)
Updated 27 June 2016
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Shaken baby syndrome ‘is child abuse’

ABHA: On average, between 200 and 300 cases of violence are recorded annually against infants and children in Saudi Arabia.
This was revealed by Maha Al-Muneef, executive director of the National Family Safety program. According to her, shaken baby syndrome (SBS) is one of the forms of abuses that happens with infants under the age of two when they are held by the arm or under the arm, shaken violently and then thrown on the ground or on a bed.
This results in three possible physical injuries. The first is bleeding in the brain due to moving the head rapidly back and forth which causes the brain to move inside the skull and which may rupture blood vessels that feed the brain. Second, internal bleeding in the eye socket because of the intense movement of shaking the baby’s head back and forth. Third, the presence of fractures in the rib cage due to the way one holds the child under his or her arms.
She pointed out that there are cases of breathing difficulty due to SBS which has not been diagnosed. She stressed that there is not enough information in Saudi society about the seriousness of the matter as a result of intense and violent shaking. She said it is necessary to educate pediatricians about the syndrome and how to diagnose it early in order to protect children from the consequences.
She indicated that the consequences can be disastrous for the child, and can in some cases lead to brain death, vision loss or mental disability.
Al-Muneef mentioned the National Family Safety Program’s role through its “Don’t Shake Me” campaign which was implemented in National Guard hospitals. In this program, social medical teams educate mothers about this syndrome, which in turn every mother conveys to the father and those who take care of the child.
Concerning the causes of violent shaking, Al-Muneef explained that these are related to the child’s continued crying as a result of colic, especially in the first months after birth, or illness and disability that requires extra care from the parents. These reasons should be communicated to parents who may be young, lack experience and be short-tempered.
Other reasons for the occurrence of violence against children may be poverty, unemployment, addiction, society’s weak culture and the lack of enforcement of laws and deterrent punishment against violators.
Although the SBS is child abuse, the syndrome, unfortunately, is not generally accepted or recognized by health professionals or parents.
Al-Muneef emphasized the Ministry of Health’s efforts to present the “Don’t Shake Me” campaign and all its elements in the coming months to all the ministry’s hospitals in order to spread awareness among mothers and families.
She said that similar projects had proved their worth in other countries where the frequency of violence against children had been significantly reduced.
These programs are usually presented in hospitals to explain the preventive methods of violent head injuries, and teach the mother how to deal with crying babies.
Al-Muneef added that the campaign is presented by the National Family Safety Program as a proposal to raise awareness among mothers of the importance of fighting SBS in a competition conducted by the King Khalid Foundation. The program won the best proposal and work plan for a national development project and was financially supported by the King Khalid Foundation in September 2011.
Through the awareness lectures, more than 6,000 mothers have been educated about SBS during this campaign.


Enigmatic traveler who revealed full majesty of Makkah to the world

Pilgrims camp in Arafat during Hajj in this rare old picture. (Supplied)
Updated 15 min 18 sec ago
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Enigmatic traveler who revealed full majesty of Makkah to the world

  • The next day he and his companions wore Ihram garments and walked along winding roads until they reached Makkah
  • The vessel floundered and sank, forcing Al-Abbasi and his men to flee in a lifeboat and row for hours before reaching the safety of a Red Sea island

JEDDAH: Ali Bey Al-Abbasi was not the first European enamored with the Arab Peninsula and the mysteries of Makkah. Nor was he the first Westerner to visit the city — but he was an unusually resourceful man, with wealth of unknown origin and a great thirst for discovery, who provided Westerners with the first comprehensive account of the city.
He was born Domingo Francisco Jorge Badía y Leblich in Barcelona in 1767. After receiving a liberal education, he focused on astronomy, medicine and mineral science. He also developed an interest in learning Arabic.
“Al-Abbasi was an agent of the king of Spain or of Napoleon,” says August Raleigh, author of the book “Makkah in the Eyes of a Christian Pilgrim.”
In 1801, Al-Abbasi set off for Paris and London, returning to Spain two years later wearing Islamic clothing. Later, he formed a close friendship with the sultan of Morocco who, with growing affection, advised the Spaniard to find a wife, to which Al-Abbasi replied that he had made a pledge not to marry before visiting Makkah. The sultan tried to discourage Al-Abbasi from making the trip but when he could not, and saw the determination of his friend, he presented him with a beautiful, extravagant tent as a gift.
On the third day of Shawwal, 1806, Al-Abbasi joined a convoy heading to Makkah, taking with him 14 camels and two horses. He boarded a ship from Suez but fate, and the weather, were not on his side. The vessel floundered and sank, forcing Al-Abbasi and his men to flee in a lifeboat and row for hours before reaching the safety of a Red Sea island. From there, they were rescued and taken to Jeddah.
On the 12th day of Dul Qaada, Al-Abbasi had to be carried on a stretcher because he had a fever that weakened him and damaged his bones. The next day he and his companions wore Ihram garments and walked along winding roads until they reached Makkah.
Al-Abbasi entered the city and when he reached the courtyard of the mosque, a guide gestured for him to stop. He pointed to the Kaaba and said: “Look. Look at the house of God.”
The Spaniard was deeply affected by the reverence of his experience. He wrote: “The house of God is covered with a black robe from above to be draped, surrounded by a ring of lamps, the unaccustomed hour and the stillness of the night; and our guide, who was speaking before us as if he were inspired, all these images formed an amazing image that will not be erased from my memory.”
He remained in the city, living among noblemen and aristocrats. The governor of Makkah even asked him to help clean the Kaaba. Describing one of the many incredible sights that he witnessed, during a year when the number of pilgrims was 83,000, Al-Abbasi wrote: “Only in Arafat can one get an idea of the majestic scene of pilgrimage. There are countless people from all nations and colors from every corner of the world. Despite the thousands of countless dangers and obstacles that they had to overcome, all of them worship one God. Everyone counts themselves as members of one family. There is no intermediary between man and his Lord; everyone is equal before their creator.”
Al-Abbasi, who later wrote of his experiences, was the first European to present to the world a detailed account of Makkah, unlike the fragmented notes of earlier travelers such as Ludovico di Varthema and Joseph Bates. He went so far as to include a precise location, determined through astronomical observation, and recreated a map of the Grand Mosque.
Al-Abbasi continued to travel, visiting many countries before he died of dysentery in 1818, in Aleppo, Syria. He was buried in Balqa, near Amman, the capital of Jordan.