No mention of trauma as cause of head injury is likely abuse

year, 160,000 children suffer severe or life-threatening injuries and 1,000 to 2,000 children die as a result of abuse. Physical abuse is the leading cause of serious head injury in infants. Although physical abuse in the past has been a diagnosis of exclusion, data regarding the nature and frequency of head trauma consistently support the need for a presumption of child abuse when a child younger than 1 year has suffered an intracranial injury. Head injuries are the leading cause of traumatic death and the leading cause of child abuse fatalities.

Previous research has shown that serious injuries in infants, particularly those that result in death, are rarely accidental unless there is another clear explanation, such as trauma from a motor vehicle crash. Billmire and Meyers found that when uncomplicated documented severe trauma such as that resulting in skull fractures were excluded, 95 percent of serious intracranial injuries and 64 percent of all head injuries in infants younger than 1 year were attributable to child abuse. Bruce and Zimmerman documented that 80 percent of deaths from head trauma in infants and children younger than 2 years were the result of non-accidental trauma.

[Above two paragraphs are attributable to the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, 2000-2001.]


Contact: Susan Craig
Children's Hospital Boston

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