Fractures are a common sign of abuse. It is impossible to tell from an x-ray alone whether or not a fracture is due to abuse. Fractures of the extremities are the most common skeletal injury in children who have been abused and approximately 80% of fractures due to abuse occur in children under 18 months old.1 In non-mobile children, rib fractures, long bone fractures, and metaphyseal fractures have a high correlation with child abuse. An understanding of the motor development of young children can aid physicians in the identifying fractures due to abuse.
Child abuse is a common cause of pediatric morbidity and mortality. In 2015, over 650,000 children were found to be victims of maltreatment and over 1,500 child deaths occurred due to child abuse or neglect in the United States.1 Children under 1 year of age are at the highest risk of abuse with potential for lifelong sequelae. Emergency department providers are in a unique position to recognize child abuse and take appropriate steps to reduce further injury to children. An understanding of the motor development of young children can aid physicians in the identification of clinical red flags in the history.