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Child Abuse

Spiral Fracture and Child Abuse

06/07/2006

Question:

My brother is being accused of breaking my ,at the time, 14 month old neice`s leg. He and my sister -in -law were awoken to her crying and screaming and he says when he walked into the room, her 3 brothers were in there and the smallest was getting off the small bed he had made for them. He admits to picking her up by the leg and swinging her up towards his chest. The bed he had made them was just a small square filled with blankets and pillows on top. So cps came in and took them all(5 total) away. My brother says he knows in his heart he didnt do it and my 7 year old nephew admitted to my aunt that he was in their bed and he jumped on her leg and she started screaming so he jumped out and they blamed it on the youngest who is 2 . My brother says he feels that he didnt do it cause she was already crying and screaming when he went into the room and he didnt feel any pop or hear any pop when he picked her up. She did get a spiral fracture on her right femur. The doctor at the hospital said there is no way that my nephew did it and it had to be my brother. My neices are VERY flexible and they sleep with their legs spread open, but bent at the knee and my question is that would it be possible that my nephew did this or not?

Answer:

I can't really answer your question without having the entire case available to me for review.  (This is not something we do through the NetWellness internet site).

However, there are some issues that you might not have raised but that are important. There are accidental causes of leg fractures and it sounds like you are describing such a scenario.

If there are concerns of inflicted injury, or child abuse, then the issues that must be raised are different and require a complete analysis of the baby's safety and potential for injury in the future.

I read, from your email question, that these are not factors that you are considering.

For more information:

Go to the Child Abuse health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Robert Shapiro, MD
Professor of Clinical Pediatrics
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati