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To the editor:
You and Judge [Charles] Hickman are to be commended for the Jan. 26 story about [Derek] Hartley’s baby-shaking offense.
As your article indicated, Mr. Hartley was apparently ignorant about the effects of shaking a baby, as are most people who commit this offense.
Years ago, Tom Jones and I interviewed Dr. George Nichols, state medical examiner at the time, regarding a similar offense. He explained that the difference in body mass between a grown man and an infant a few months old was equivalent to the difference in body mass between a full-grown African elephant and a man. If potential shakers were to place themselves in the hypothetical position of being shaken by something that weighs about six tons, they might reconsider their approach to the child.
Dr. Nichols further explained that, due to the fact an infant’s brain is not fully developed, shaking literally causes the child’s brain to rattle about inside its skull, which severs blood vessels leading to and from the brain. Of course, it does not require a medical expert to appreciate what happens to an organ that is deprived of the blood supply required to support that organ.
If even one child is saved from being shaken as a result of Mr. Hartley discussing his case with you, you will have performed an invaluable public service.