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Clinical features

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

The features of physical abuse may be nebulous, and sadly the health care professional must maintain a high index of suspicion in all children where an injury has occured.

Features include:

  • bruising
  • fractures
  • burns or scalds
  • bites
  • the child may be afraid of a certain person, or of everyone

An important feature of physical child abuse is the history. Features include:

  • inconsistent history - from one telling to the next, or from one carer to the next
  • a delay between the injury and presentation
  • an injury out of proportion to the alleged accident - for example a fall from a sofa to a carpeted floor being used to explain a skull fracture in a young child.

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