A Multispecialty Approach to the Identification and Diagnosis of Nonaccidental Trauma in Children

Cureus. 2022 Jul 26;14(7):e27276. doi: 10.7759/cureus.27276. eCollection 2022 Jul.


Child abuse is a preventable phenomenon of considerable concern resulting in significant child mortality and morbidity. We analyze various abuse lesions such as radiological (visceral and skeletal lesions and those associated with head trauma) and cutaneous (burns, bruises, bites, etc.) to enhance streamlined identification of injuries in cases of physical child abuse. For effective results, it is essential to remain mindful of all background factors, such as the caregiver setting and the prevalence of child maltreatment in the concerned community while acknowledging the possibility of natural causes (genetic diseases such as osteogenesis imperfecta and hemophilia, or acquired abnormalities) that can mimic NAT and cause confusion in diagnosis and treatment. The margin of error in cases of abuse is negligible, therefore, making its diagnosis a momentous as well as challenging clinical task. An ineffective diagnosis can have detrimental emotional consequences for the family and may even expose the child to future potentially fatal episodes of abuse. Hence, there is a need to direct special focus on the importance of accurate history taking and immediate, responsible reporting to authorities, as well as to child protective services. Therefore, considering the multifactorial approach this subject requires, this review aims to delve into prevalence statistics, various risk factors, and their effect on psychological health to offer a near-complete regulation to ensure an effective understanding of NAT on part of doctors, social workers, and other relevant authorities.

Keywords: abusive head trauma; child abuse and neglect; child maltreatment; non-accidental trauma; shaken baby syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review