Can we increase detection? A nationwide analysis of age-related fractures in child abuse

Hallie J. Quiroz, Jason J. Yoo, Liann C. Casey, Brent A. Willobee, Anthony R. Ferrantella, Chad M. Thorson, Eduardo A. Perez, Juan E. Sola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to stratify fractures associated with child abuse in relation to the child's age. Methods: The Kids' Inpatient Database (1997–2012) was queried for all patients (< 18 years old) with a diagnosis of fracture and child abuse. The primary outcome was age-related determinants of fracture distribution. Chi-squared analysis was used for statistical analysis where appropriate, with significance set at p < 0.05. Results: More than 39,000 children were admitted for child abuse, and 26% sustained fractures. Most were infants (median age 0 year [IQR 0–1]). 28% sustained multiple fractures, and 27% had skull fractures. By age, infants had the highest rate of multiple fractures (33% vs 16% 1–4 years), and the highest rate of closed skull fractures (33% vs 21% ages 1–4), while adolescents had more facial fractures (43% vs 11% ages 9–12), all p < 0.001. Multiple rib fractures were more commonly seen in infants (28% vs 8% ages 1–4), while children 5–8 years had the highest rates of clavicular fractures (7% vs 3% in infants), all p < 0.001. Conclusion: Age-related fracture patterns exist and may be due to changing mechanism of abuse as a child grows. These age-related fracture patterns can help aid in healthcare detection of child abuse in hopes to thwart further abuse. Type of study: Retrospective comparative study. Level of evidence: Level III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-158
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Abuse patterns
  • Child abuse
  • Fractures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery


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