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    Child abuse diagnosis requires careful analysis

    Here, a four-month-old is shown with Hay Wells syndrome which could be mistaken for severe burns.




    Due to the nature of this topic and its direct implication across specialties, this article was a collaboration with our sister publication, Contemporary Pediatrics 

    Dermatologists are among the doctors likely to spot suspected child abuse cases. Why? Researchers have found that skin tells the tale: skin exposes the most easily recognizable physical manifestations of child abuse, up to 90% of young victims present with cutaneous findings.1

    However, one should realize that only 8% of the 90% of skin abnormalities due to child abuse are pathognomonic, according to Professor Arnold Oranje, M.D. Ph.D., Rotterdam, the Netherlands, who directed a focus section on skin abnormalities in the differential diagnosis of child abuse at the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting. Therefore, the diagnosis of child abuse should be evaluated by a multidisciplinary team of expert specialists.

    In order for pediatric dermatologists and dermatologists who examine children in their offices to be on the frontlines, helping to protect these kids, they have to keep their eyes open to the possibility, according to Tor Shwayder, M.D., who is triple boarded in pediatrics, dermatology and pediatric dermatology and is director of pediatric dermatology at Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Mich. Dr. Shwayder was also a speaker on the AAD’s section on child abuse.

     Early diagnosis is key to preventing future abuse or death, according to Dr. Shwayder. An abused child has a 50% chance of being abused again, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    Lisette Hilton
    Lisette Hilton is president of Words Come Alive, based in Boca Raton, Florida.


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