Norman Guthkelch, Voice of Reason in “Shaken Baby” Debate, Dies

Norman Guthkelch, the man whose hypothesis about shaking babies turned into a doctrine he did not support, has died. He was 100 years old.

Dr. Guthkelch spent his last years working with the National Child Abuse Defense and Resource Center. He offered expert testimony in response to weakly-supported medical opinions that babies had been violently shaken.

Dr. Guthkelch hypothesized in 1971 that subdural bleeding could result from shaking a baby—a common parenting practice then in northern England, where he worked. He advised parents not to shake.

It was only physicians who followed, though, who decided that certain symptoms conclusively proved that a baby had been violently shaken. In recent years Dr. Guthkelch said, “I am frankly quite disturbed that what I intended as a friendly suggestion for avoiding injury to children has become an excuse for imprisoning innocent parents.”.