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J Pediatr Orthop. 2002 Nov-Dec;22(6):740-4.

Fractures in children younger than age 1 year: importance of collaboration with child protection services.

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Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital, Aberdeen, United Kingdom.


The medical records of all children less than 1 year of age presenting to the Accident and Emergency Department over a 5-year period (1995-1999) with a fracture were retrospectively reviewed for possible abuse. Seventy-four children presented with fractures during the study period, with a mean age at presentation of 5 months (range 2 weeks to 1 year). Of these children, 46 had skull fractures and 28 had long bone fractures. Children were classified into one of seven categories: definite abuse, likely abuse, suspicious, likely accident, definite accident, neglect, or unknown cause. A three-tier system of grading for possible abuse was then used to analyze variance. The first tier consisted of the initial assessment by staff clinicians, the second retrospectively by an orthopaedic registrar, and the third retrospectively by a designated doctor in child protection (consultant pediatrician), all using the same information from the case notes. The use of the three-tier system of grading demonstrated a variance in the diagnosis of nonaccidental injury. The possibility of abuse was underestimated at the time of the original injury in over a quarter of cases (28.4%) when compared with the assessment by the consultant pediatrician. In 34 children (46%), there was no written documentation that nonaccidental injury was ever considered. While management depends on local guidelines and arrangements, the authors would advise that all children under 1 year of age with a fracture should be admitted to the hospital and referred to a pediatrician for child protection assessment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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