• September/October 2016
  • Vol. 17, No. 7

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Abusive Head Trauma in Infants and Children

A white paper from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) explains the phenomenon of abusive head trauma (AHT) in infants and young children and identifies a variety of AHT-related injuries. The paper defines AHT as "a well-recognized constellation of brain injuries caused by the direct application of force to an infant or young child resulting in physical injury to the head and/or its contents." It details the various signs of AHT, including subdural hematoma, retinal hemorrhages, and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. The paper also provides a discussion of controversy surrounding the use of the "triad" of subdural hematoma, retinal hemorrhage, and encephalopathy to diagnose AHT. Data presented were compiled from the practices of pediatricians, neurologists, ophthalmologists, critical care doctors, radiologists, neuroradiologists, physiatrists, and neurosurgeons.

Understanding Abusive Head Trauma in Infants and Children, by Cindy W. Christian and AAP's Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect and Section on Child Abuse and Neglect, is available at http://www2.aap.org/sections/childabuseneglect/PDFs/Understanding_AHT_Infants_and_Children.pdf (559 KB).

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