What are the clinical signs of physical abuse in children?

Child abuse often presents with:

  • Bruises of different ages (some fresh and others already discoloured)
  • Bruises with a particular distribution (on the back and back of legs)
  • Bruises with a particular pattern (hand, buckle, or tram line due to a stick)
  • Cigarette burns
  • Burns of the buttocks or perineum
  • Burns on the hands and feet
  • Any injuries in the mouth

An X-ray examination may show multiple injuries of different ages, e.g. new and old rib fractures.

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