In the decades since Dr. John Caffey described a series of children with chronic subdural hematoma and long bone fractures, there has been a substantial increase in the medical recognition of various forms child abuse. In the United States, the term shaken baby syndrome was coined to explain a constellation of injuries assumed to be the result of violent shaking of infants. After improved understanding of the variety of mechanisms that occur when children are abused, abusive head trauma (AHT) has become the recommended terminology. AHT is a more comprehensive term that reflects the brain injuries that children suffer as the result of abuse. AHT continues to include shaking as a mechanism of injury as well as shaking with impact, impact alone, crushing injuries or combinations of several mechanisms. The medical community in the United States has led the way in developing new terminology and research to describe this unique and devastating form of abuse. The globalization of medicine and rapid information transfer has resulted in AHT becoming well-recognized internationally as a form of serious and fatal child abuse. This paper will review the historical basis in the United States for the diagnosis of AHT. We will also review some of the current international issue in epidemiology, diagnosis, legal processes and outcomes in selected countries/regions where child abuse physicians are actively involved in the evaluation of AHT.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging