Arch Dis Child Educ Pract Ed 95:170-177 doi:10.1136/adc.2009.170431
  • Best practice

Which injuries may indicate child abuse?

Editor's Choice
  1. S Maguire
  1. Correspondence to Dr S Maguire, Department of Child Health, Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff University, Heath Park, Cardiff CF 14 4XN, UK; sabinemaguire{at}
  • Accepted 18 July 2010
  • Published Online First 6 October 2010


Making the decision as to whether an injury is a result of child abuse or not is stressful for both the family involved and the clinical team. It is not a decision that is taken lightly, and with an increasing expectation by the investigating agencies, lawyers and the public in general, to ensure that it is based on explicit ‘evidence’, clinicians need to be up to date with the latest scientific publications in the field. This article aims to summarise the current evidence in relation to all physical injuries except those pertaining to the central nervous system, which will form a separate article. It will examine the pattern of accidental and abusive bruises, fractures, burns, abdominal injuries and oral injuries focusing on discriminating features and necessary investigations.


  • Funding We are grateful for the research grants funding our work, provided by the NSPCC, RCPCH, Welsh Assembly Government and the MRC.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.