Pediatric Fractures: Identifying and Managing Physical Abuse

Jessalyn Shaw*, Kirsten Simonton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Childhood fractures are a common reason for presentation to the emergency department. Fractures are also an important manifestation of child maltreatment. Therefore, it is critical that healthcare providers understand historical, biomechanical, physical examination, and psychosocial factors that can help differentiate abusive skeletal trauma from accidental injuries and recognize other contributors such as metabolic bone disease. As fractures may not be apparent based on history and examination alone, medical providers with concern for abusive injury in young children should understand when and how to evaluate for occult skeletal and other injuries. While no fracture location is pathognomonic for abuse, certain fracture types have high specificity for abuse and therefore knowledge of their radiologic appearance, mechanism of injury, and association with maltreatment is essential. This article will review current knowledge on the topic of child abuse considerations when children present with fractures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100786
JournalClinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • child abuse
  • fractures
  • non-accidental trauma
  • skeletal injury
  • skeletal survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine


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