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Deaths Due to Child Abuse: A 6‐Year Review of Cases in The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office

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Case files from the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office from 2007 to 2012 were reviewed to analyze homicides due to physical child abuse in children <3 years old. Fatal cases mostly involved younger subjects. Intracranial injuries were the leading cause of death, while death due to extracranial injuries was uncommon. Eyes were involved in most of the cases. Spinal cord was involved in about 1/3 of the cases, mostly in the thoracic area. In some cases, previous injuries were present. There were significant differences in the pattern of injuries between age groups. Subjects showing signs of impact to the head and subjects with no evidence of an impact showed no significant difference in internal injuries. The association of multiple injuries is highly suggestive of child abuse. In suspected child abuse, a postmortem examination including neuropathological, ophthalmological, and radiological information should be always evaluated, together with investigative reports and the medical history.
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Keywords: abusive head trauma; child abuse; forensic science; homicide; intracranial findings; ocular hemorrhages; spinal cord injuries

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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