Inflicted skeletal trauma: The relationship of perpetrators to their victims

Department of Pediatrics, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Virginia, United States
Child Abuse & Neglect (Impact Factor: 2.47). 10/2007; 31(9):993-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2007.02.010
Source: PubMed


Although inflicted skeletal trauma is a very common presentation of child abuse, little is known about the perpetrators of inflicted skeletal injuries. Studies exist describing perpetrators of inflicted traumatic brain injury, but no study has examined characteristics of perpetrators of inflicted skeletal trauma.
All cases of suspected child physical abuse evaluated by the child abuse evaluation teams at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (January 1996 to August 2000) and at the Children's Hospital at Denver (January 1996 to December 1999) were reviewed for the presence of fractures. All children with inflicted fractures were entered into the study, and demographic data, investigative data, and identity of perpetrators were collected.
There were a total of 630 fractures for 194 patients. The median number of fractures per patient was 2, and the maximum was 31. Sixty-three percent of children presented with at least one additional abusive injury other than the fracture(s). Perpetrators were identified in 79% of the cases. Nearly 68% of the perpetrators were male; 45% were the biological fathers. The median age of the children abused by males (4.5 months) significantly differed from the median age of those abused by females (10 months) (p=.003).
In the cases where a perpetrator of inflicted fractures could be identified, the majority were men, most commonly the biological fathers. Children injured by men were younger than those injured by women.

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    • "Most (90%) of the alleged perpetrators of multiple-gestation maltreatment lived with the victim. Starling et al. (2007) found that 76% of perpetrators lived with the child, and Schnitzer and Ewigman (2005), 73%. Thus, our study indicates a slightly higher proportion of perpetrators living with the victim in abuse of multiples. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: The rate of multiple births has increased over the last two decades. In 1982, an increased frequency of injuries among this patient population was noted, but few studies have evaluated the increased incidence of maltreatment in twins. The study aim was to evaluate the features of all multiple-birth children with substantiated physical abuse and/or neglect over a four-year period at a major children's hospital. Study design and methods: A Retrospective chart review was conducted of multiple-gestation children in which at least one child in the multiple set experienced child maltreatment from January 2006 to December 2009. Data regarding the child, injuries, family, and perpetrators were abstracted. We evaluated whether family and child characteristics were associated with maltreatment, and whether types of injuries were similar within multiple sets. For comparison, data from the same time period for single-birth maltreated children also were abstracted, including child age, gestational age at birth, and injury type. Results: There were 19 sets of multiple births in which at least one child had abusive injuries and/or neglect. In 10 of 19 sets (53%), all multiples were found to have a form of maltreatment, and all children in these multiple sets shared at least one injury type. Parents lived together in 63% of cases. Fathers and mothers were the alleged perpetrator in 42% of the cases. Multiple-gestation-birth maltreated children were significantly more likely than single-birth maltreated children to have abdominal trauma (13% vs. 1%, respectively; p<.01), fractures (83% vs. 39%; p<.01), and to be injured at a younger mean age (12.8 months vs. 34.8 months; p<.01). Conclusions: Siblings of maltreated, multiple-gestation children often, but not always, were abused. In sets with two maltreated children, children usually shared the same modes of maltreatment. Multiples are significantly more likely than singletons to be younger and experience fractures and abdominal trauma. The findings support the current standard practice of evaluating all children in a multiple set when one is found to be abused or neglected.
    Child abuse & neglect 04/2013; 37(12). DOI:10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.03.002 · 2.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Theidentification of a skeletal injury may be the first indication of abuse. Estimates of the frequency of fractures in abused children vary from approximately 10% to 50% depending on the population studied, the type of diagnostic imaging used to detect fractures, and the age of the patients seen (Ebbin, Gollub, Stein, & Wilson, 1969; Herndon, 1983; Leventhal, Thomas, Rosenfield, & Markowitz, 1993). Recently, large population-based studies have been used to estimate the incidence of inflicted skeletal trauma. While the majority of fractures are still attributed to falls, child abuse accounts for 12% of fractures in children less than 36 months of age (Leventhal, 2008).
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