Background: Rib fractures have a strong association with nonaccidental trauma (NAT) and severe trauma. The purposes of this study were to evaluate rib fractures in children to determine (1) the positive predictive value of a rib fracture in defining NAT and (2) the frequency of rib fractures as the only skeletal manifestation of NAT.
Methods: We reviewed the medical records and imaging of all children with rib fractures over a 6-year period. NAT was determined by the Child Advocacy and Protection team.
Results: In children younger than 3 years of age, the positive predictive value (PPV) of a rib fracture as an indicator of NAT was 95%. The positive predictive value increased to 100% once historical and clinical circumstance excluded all other causes for rib fractures.
Conclusion: In this study, rib fracture(s) were the only skeletal manifestation of NAT in 29% of the children.