The purpose of this study was to examine the demographic and injury characteristics of children hospitalized with nonaccidental trauma as a causative factor using a large national database. Of the nearly 2.5 million cases in the database, 1794 (0.1%) were identified through diagnostic coding of abuse. Both sexes were equally represented, and two thirds had Medicaid as their primary payer. About one half of the children were younger than 1 year, but all ages were represented. The most common orthopaedic injuries were fractures of the femur or humerus, and most of those fractures occurred in children younger than 2 years. The most common nonorthopaedic injuries were contusions and brain injuries, with or without skull fracture, and 62 (3.5%) of the abused children died; almost all deaths were associated with brain trauma. Nearly one half of the abused hospitalized children between the ages of 3 and 20 years had a concomitant psychiatric or neurological condition. These data provide the orthopaedic surgeon with additional information to assist in identification of potential cases of nonaccidental trauma. In addition to presence of long bone fractures in infants and toddlers, older children with concomitant psychiatric or neurological conditions presenting with nonaccidental injuries should be assessed for possible abuse.





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