Vaccines and Shaken Baby Syndrome

Small children who are shaken forcefully can develop bleeding around the brain (subdural hematomas) and bleeding on the back of the eye (retinal hemorrhages). Some lawyers have chosen to defend people accused of abusing children by saying that bleeding was caused by the pertussis component of the DTP vaccine. However, no evidence exists to support this contention. Neither pertussis nor the pertussis vaccine cause bleeding around the brain or on the back of the eye — only forceful shaking does this.

Reviewed by Paul A. Offit, MD, Lori Handy, MD, MSCE on February 08, 2018

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family's personal health. You should not use it to replace any relationship with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult your physician or, in serious cases, seek immediate assistance from emergency personnel.