Send to

Choose Destination
Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2018 Nov 16;115(46):769-775. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2018.0769.

Abuse as a Cause of Childhood Fractures.

Author information

DRK Kliniken Berlin | Westend, Department of Pediatrics, Child Protection Outpatient Clinic; DRK Kliniken Berlin | Westend, Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology; DRK Kliniken Berlin | Westend, Department of Trauma Surgery and Orthopedics; Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry/Psychotherapy.



It is well known that physical abuse of children all too often escapes detection. Fractures are among the potential consequences of physical abuse but are also com- mon in childhood because of accidents. A question frequently addressed to the Medical Child Protection Hotline (Medizini- sche Kinderschutzhotline) is how fractures due to abuse can be distinguished from accidental fractures.


This review is based on pertinent publications retrieved by a search in PubMed and in the Cochrane Data- base, as well as on the authors' experience in a pediatric emergency department with ca. 29 000 consultations per year and in a child protection outpatient clinic with ca. 100 consultations per year.


Fractures due to abuse are especially common among infants; their incidence is estimated at 56.8/100 000 among infants less than six months old and 39.8/100 000 among infants aged 6 to 11 months. In consideration of the age of the child, the type of fracture, the history, and other factors, a high probability of abuse can be suspected in many cases, so that further measures can be initiated.


All physicians involved in the care of children (even if only occasionally) should be aware of the major indicators of likely physical abuse and of the available oppor- tunities for counseling and intervention. Failures to diagnose child abuse are associated with high rates of recurrence and mortality.

Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Deutsches Aerzteblatt International
Loading ...
Support Center