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Consensus statement on abusive head trauma in infants and young children. Pediatr Radiol 2018 Aug;48(8):1048-1065



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85047247398 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   181 Citations


Abusive head trauma (AHT) is the leading cause of fatal head injuries in children younger than 2 years. A multidisciplinary team bases this diagnosis on history, physical examination, imaging and laboratory findings. Because the etiology of the injury is multifactorial (shaking, shaking and impact, impact, etc.) the current best and inclusive term is AHT. There is no controversy concerning the medical validity of the existence of AHT, with multiple components including subdural hematoma, intracranial and spinal changes, complex retinal hemorrhages, and rib and other fractures that are inconsistent with the provided mechanism of trauma. The workup must exclude medical diseases that can mimic AHT. However, the courtroom has become a forum for speculative theories that cannot be reconciled with generally accepted medical literature. There is no reliable medical evidence that the following processes are causative in the constellation of injuries of AHT: cerebral sinovenous thrombosis, hypoxic-ischemic injury, lumbar puncture or dysphagic choking/vomiting. There is no substantiation, at a time remote from birth, that an asymptomatic birth-related subdural hemorrhage can result in rebleeding and sudden collapse. Further, a diagnosis of AHT is a medical conclusion, not a legal determination of the intent of the perpetrator or a diagnosis of murder. We hope that this consensus document reduces confusion by recommending to judges and jurors the tools necessary to distinguish genuine evidence-based opinions of the relevant medical community from legal arguments or etiological speculations that are unwarranted by the clinical findings, medical evidence and evidence-based literature.

Author List

Choudhary AK, Servaes S, Slovis TL, Palusci VJ, Hedlund GL, Narang SK, Moreno JA, Dias MS, Christian CW, Nelson MD Jr, Silvera VM, Palasis S, Raissaki M, Rossi A, Offiah AC


Sandeep K. Narang MD, JD Chief, Professor in the Pediatrics department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Child Abuse
Child, Preschool
Craniocerebral Trauma
Hematoma, Subdural
Infant, Newborn
Retinal Hemorrhage
Rib Fractures
Societies, Medical
Spinal Injuries