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Norman Guthkelch

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Norman Guthkelch
Born(1915-09-02)September 2, 1915
DiedJuly 28, 2016(2016-07-28) (aged 100)
OccupationPediatric neurosurgeon
Known forDescribing shaken baby syndrome

Arthur Norman Guthkelch (September 2, 1915 – July 28, 2016)[1] was a British pediatric neurosurgeon. He is sometimes known as the first British pediatric neurosurgeon. He was the first physician to make a connection between shaking an infant and subsequent brain injury.



Guthkelch was born in Woodford Green. He had wanted to become a veterinarian in early childhood, but he shifted his goal to becoming a physician by the second grade. He went to school at Christ's Hospital school, Horsham, UK.[2] He studied at the University of Oxford, earning a medical degree. He was a registrar at the Manchester Royal Infirmary.[3] Guthkelch worked at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, Salford Royal Hospital, Royal Manchester Children's Hospital and Hull Royal Infirmary. His early career was influenced by the neurosurgeon Sir Geoffrey Jefferson.[4] Guthkelch has been described as the first pediatric neurosurgeon in Great Britain.[5]

Making the connection between subdural hematoma and babies who had sustained shaking injuries, Guthkelch published his conclusions in a 1971 British Medical Journal paper.[6] He said that since there was no stigma associated with shaking infants in Northern England at that time, parents were frank with him that these injured infants had been shaken.[7]

Guthkelch retired from full-time clinical practice 1992 at University Health Sciences Center, Tucson, Arizona, Department of Neurosurgery.

In 2009 he began reviewing cases in which people were charged with injuring children by shaking.[3] He was critical of the broad application of the shaken baby syndrome diagnosis in legal proceedings, saying that medical illnesses could sometimes cause similar issues to shaken baby syndrome.[8] He published a clarion call for civility in the discourse concerning the controversy, and that it was not possible to infer shaking or any other form of abuse from retino-dural hemorrhage.[9] "In a case of measles, if you get the diagnosis wrong, in seven days' time it really doesn't matter because it's cleared up anyhow," Guthkelch said. "If you get the diagnosis of fatal shaken baby syndrome wrong, potentially someone's life will be terminated."[10] In September 2015, he told Retro Report that he was "shocked" and "desperately disappointed" that prosecutors were using his science as a basis to convict people.[11]

The Society for Research into Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida bestows the Norman Guthkelch Award upon a student or early career scientist involved in spina bifida or hydrocephalus research.[12]

Guthkelch lived in Ohio.[13] He turned 100 in September 2015.[14] On July 28, 2016 Guthkelch died at the age of 100 in Toledo, Ohio.[15][16]

See also



  1. ^ "JISCMail - BNRG Archives".
  2. ^ "NORMAN GUTHKELCH" (PDF). The Old Blue (Spring 2017): 15. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Podcast: Setting the record straight". Medill Justice Project. September 7, 2012. Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  4. ^ "Arthur Norman Guthkelch, b 1915". ELGAR: Electronic Gateway to Archives at Rylands. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  5. ^ Jenny, Carole (2010). Child Abuse and Neglect: Diagnosis, Treatment and Evidence. Elsevier. p. 349. ISBN 978-1437736212. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  6. ^ Shapiro, Joseph (June 29, 2011). "Rethinking shaken baby syndrome". NPR. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  7. ^ Bazelon, Emily (March 14, 2012). "Are innocent parents being prosecuted for killing their babies?". Slate. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  8. ^ Jacobazzi, Pamela (September 2, 2012). "Disproving proven theories". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on February 24, 2016. Retrieved May 30, 2015 – via HighBeam.
  9. ^ Guthkelch, AN (2012). "Problems of Infant Retino-Dural Hemorrhage with Minimal External Injury" (PDF). Houston Journal of Health Law & Policy. 12 (2): 201-208. Retrieved 26 February 2024.
  10. ^ Stroud, Matt (April 15, 2014). "Parents are going to prison for a medical diagnosis that may not exist". The Verge. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  11. ^ Retro Report (14 September 2015). "The Doctor". www.RetroReport.org. www.RetroReport.org. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  12. ^ "New scientist awards". Society for Research into Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida. Archived from the original on October 3, 2015. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  13. ^ Staff (2015-03-23). "Special report: Doctors doubt Shaken Baby Syndrome science, fear bad convictions". The Daily Herald. Retrieved 2016-07-23.
  14. ^ Clyde Haberman (2015-09-13). "Shaken Baby Syndrome: A Diagnosis That Divides the Medical World". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-07-23.
  15. ^ Staff (2016-07-28). "Dr. Arthur Norman Guthkelch Obituary". Cremation Society of Toledo. Retrieved 2016-08-04.
  16. ^ Sue Luttner (2016-08-03). "Dr. A. Norman Guthkelch fought injustice to the end". Center For Health Journalism. Retrieved 2016-08-04.