Prof. Yehuda Hiss
Prof. Yehuda Hiss Photo by Alberto Denkberg
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Two infant twins in the hospital with severe injuries were likely shaken by an adult, and are not suffering from a rare disease, according to a forensic investigator probing the case.

Both 4-month-olds are suffering from broken ribs and other bones. One twin, the boy, is fighting for his life, but his sister is in stable condition.

The twins' parents deny any wrongdoing, but Prof. Yehuda Hiss of the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine claims that the most probable reason for the injuries was shaking. In an interim report, Hiss stated that he could find no genetic disease, germ or contamination that could have caused the severe injuries.

Immediately after the twins were admitted at Sheba Medical Center last week, the medical staff called in the police, who questioned the parents. The couple from Ramat Gan, a 37-year-old man, and his 32-year-old wife, told the police they had been trying for years to have children, and only succeeded after long and complex treatments. The investigators called on Hiss to examine the children.

Despite the suspicions of violence, Hiss requested a few more days before issuing a final report, and the police investigators have decided to not yet arrest the parents, who are attending their children at the hospital.

Dozens of deaths yearly due to shaking

Following the publication of the interim forensic report, the National Council for the Child called the authorities to inquire whether the twins were shaken.

"This is the middle ground between an accident and abuse," said Yitzhak Kadman, Executive Director of the NCC. "Most of the parents who shake their children don't mean to harm or abuse them and are unaware of the damage they might be causing, as they try to make the child stop crying," he said.

According to the NCC's data, every year some 650 babies in Israel under the age of 1 year die, 150 of them from unknown reasons. The NCC estimates that at least a few dozen of the deaths are caused by violent shaking, and that thousands of babies suffer various injuries due to shaking, some of the damage becoming apparent only a long while after the initial injury. Most of the children injured by shaking are boys, under the age of one year.

"Shaking a child in order to make him stop crying is an action stemming from loss of control, and despite no malicious intent, shaking can result in death or severe damage to the brain, the skull and the ribs," Kadman said. "Here in Israel, we're lacking awareness to the huge number of babies injured by parents who shake them wildly. Even minor damage can have a lifelong influence. As opposed to abuse, with proper guidance one can reduce or even completely prevent such cases. Still it's a shame that only such a tragic case - as the one of the twins in Tel Hashomer - can bring the issue to the limelight."

In the past two years, the NCC has initiated a campaign against shaking among parents, kindergarten teachers, doctors, nurses and other professionals that are in contact with children.