nonaccidental injury

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(NAI) injury inflicted on babies and young children; the perpetrator is usually an adult – often a parent or step-parent. Most commonly seen in babies aged six months or less, it usually takes the form of bruising, particularly on the face; bite marks; burns or scalds, particularly cigarette burns; and bone injuries, especially spiral fractures of the long bones in the limbs and skull fractures. Internal injuries may be fatal. Careful examination often reveals several injuries of different ages, indicating long-term abuse. NAI usually has serious consequences for the child, including failure to thrive and behavioural problems.

Known colloquially as the battered baby (or child) syndrome, it may be precipitated by many factors, including relationship difficulties, social problems, and ill health, and is more common if the child is handicapped. It is often found that abusers suffered similar abuse themselves when young. Many abused children suffer further injury if discharged into the same environment with no support (see also risk register). A child at considerable risk may need to be removed from the family home.

Subjects: Medicine and Health.

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