Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Pediatrics. 2010 Jan;125(1):60-6. doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-3794. Epub 2009 Nov 30.

Delayed identification of pediatric abuse-related fractures.

Author information

  • 1Division of aPediatric Emergency Medicine, Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Because physicians may have difficulty distinguishing accidental fractures from those that are caused by abuse, abusive fractures may be at risk for delayed recognition; therefore, the primary objective of this study was to determine how frequently abusive fractures were missed by physicians during previous examinations. A secondary objective was to determine clinical predictors that are associated with unrecognized abuse.


Children who were younger than 3 years and presented to a large academic children's hospital from January 1993 to December 2007 and received a diagnosis of abusive fractures by a multidisciplinary child protective team were included in this retrospective review. The main outcome measures included the proportion of children who had abusive fractures and had at least 1 previous physician visit with diagnosis of abuse not identified and predictors that were independently associated with missed abuse.


Of 258 patients with abusive fractures, 54 (20.9%) had at least 1 previous physician visit at which abuse was missed. The median time to correct diagnosis from the first visit was 8 days (minimum: 1; maximum: 160). Independent predictors of missed abuse were male gender, extremity versus axially located fracture, and presentation to a primary care setting versus pediatric emergency department or to a general versus pediatric emergency department.


One fifth of children with abuse-related fractures are missed during the initial medical visit. In particular, boys who present to a primary care or a general emergency department setting with an extremity fracture are at a particularly high risk for delayed diagnosis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk