As physicians who diagnose and treat child abuse victims, we wish to comment on the broadcast concerning the Matthew Eappen case on CBS television's "60 Minutes" (March 7). Two medical experts, Drs. Floyd Gilles and Marvin Nelson, opined that Matthew Eappen died from a brain injury resulting from strangulation that could have occurred 48 hours before he collapsed in the care of Louise Woodward on Feb. 4, 1997. Dr. Gilles justified his opinion by referring to a paper he co-authored in 1987.1
We wish to point out that this paper directly contradicts Dr. Gilles' theory. The paper describes three infants who had bleeding around their brains (subdural hematomas), brain swelling, and two of the three had bleeding behind their eyes (retinal hemorrhages). The authors concluded the three children had been grasped around the neck while being violently shaken. Not surprisingly, this paper supports the vast clinical literature documenting the devastating effects of shaking on infants and young children.