The Baby Slept All Day. She Never Woke Up

CNN tells the multi-part story of Rehma Sabir
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 25, 2021 7:41 AM CST
The Baby Slept All Day. She Never Woke Up
   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – In CNN's telling, there been a growing but misguided effort in recent years to try to attack the science behind shaken baby syndrome in court, "efforts [that] are even keeping cases of alleged child abuse from coming to trial." It takes a deep, multi-part dive into one such case, that of Rehma Sabir. Relatives flew in from London and Toronto to celebrate the girl's first birthday in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The party happened two days before she actually turned one, on Jan. 14, 2013—what should have been the happiest of days, but ended up being quite the opposite. Mom Nada Siddiqui fed and played with Rehma before heading to work and turning her over to her nanny, Aisling Brady McCarthy, at 9:30am. Rehma cried as she left, so Nada checked with the nanny 45 minutes later; she said Rehma was asleep, which was unusual. Rehma's paternal grandparents, in town for the party, came over at 11:30am and were told she was napping.

They waited an hour for her to wake up, then left and returned at 4:30. She was still asleep, which concerned the grandmother enough that she ran into the room to try to wake the child. She couldn't. Rehma arrived at Boston Children’s Hospital in a coma, and what doctor's found perplexed Rehma: not just bleeding in the brain and bruising on her skull and spine, but healing fractures in Rehma’s left arm and leg. "No one ever picked up on" those fractures, she says. "No doctor. Not me ... not her nanny who was with her all the time." She was declared brain dead on Jan. 16. Police, in their search of the apartment, did pick up on some things: a missing piece of drywall by the changing table and bloody baby wipes. Nada and her husband hoped the autopsy would show that it wasn't the unthinkable: that the nanny "they liked and trusted could have hurt their daughter." It didn't. The cause of death was listed as homicide. But just weeks before the 2015 trial was to begin, a "shocking development": the medical examiner decided it wasn't homicide after all. (Read part one of the story here.)

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