Absence of rickets in infants with fatal abusive head trauma and classic metaphyseal lesions

Jeannette M. Perez-Rossello, Anna G. McDonald, Andrew Rosenberg, Andy Tsai, Paul K. Kleinman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine if rickets is present in cases of infant homicide with classic metaphyseal lesions (CMLs) and other skeletal injuries. Materials and Methods: This study was exempt from the institutional human subjects board review because all infants were deceased. An archival review (1984-2012) was performed of the radiologic and histopathologic findings of 46 consecutive infant fatalities referred from the state medical examiner's office for the evaluation of possible child abuse. Thirty infants with distal femoral histologic material were identified. Additional inclusion criteria were as follows: (a) The medical examiner determined that the infant had sustained a head injury and that the manner of death was a homicide, (b) at least one CML was evident at skeletal survey, (c) CMLs were confirmed at autopsy, and (d) non-CML fractures were also present. Nine infants (mean age, 3.9 months; age range, 1-9 months) were identified. Two pediatric radiologists independently reviewed the skeletal surveys for rachitic changes at the wrists and knees. A bone and soft tissue pathologist reviewed the distal femoral histologic slices for rickets. Results: There were no radiographic or pathologic features of rickets in the cohort. Conclusion: The findings provide no support for the view that the CML is due to rickets. Rather, they strengthen a robust literature that states that the CML is a traumatic injury commonly encountered in physically abused infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)810-821
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Medicine(all)


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