Tagged: Dan Lindberg

Advancing the Work to Identify Abdominal Injuries and Abusive Head Trauma in Child Abuse Victims

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Abdominal and head injuries are significant indicators of child abuse, but often go undetected by emergency room doctors. In fact, an estimated 30% of children with abusive head injuries are sent away without a diagnosis.1 Even more, of all child abuse cases, an estimated 3% of child abuse victims have injuries to the liver.2

These startling statistics have prompted Kempe to take action to educate and share knowledge and tools with doctors to help them better identify abdominal injuries and abusive head trauma when a child first visits an emergency room or doctor’s office. By empowering doctors with this knowledge, we can keep children from suffering recurring abuse.

Abdominal Injuries

Liver lacerations and other injuries to abdominal organs are often a clear indicator a child has been abused. Unfortunately, doctors often miss these hidden signs of abuse because the injuries are not visible to the naked eye.

Dan Lindberg, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics at The Kempe Center and University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center shared significant findings related to abusive abdominal injuries in Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine. His research shows that while abdominal injuries are generally uncommon in children, many abused children often suffer from abdominal injuries. And, frequently doctors miss screening for abdominal injuries.

Since publishing this research, Dr. Lindberg has been working to share these findings with pediatricians and emergency room doctors across the country. One tool doctors can use to identify an abdominal injury is a blood test. This blood test can immediately alert doctors to the possibility of an abdominal injury – and raise concern for missed abuse.

This simple blood test could make the world of difference in keeping children safe and prevent them from suffering recurring abuse.

Abusive Head Trauma

Abusive head trauma is the leading cause of death among abused kids, killing one in five children who have this type of injury. Of those who survive, 8 in ten are left with permanent injuries.3,4

Dr. Lindberg and the team at Kempe are also making significant strides helping doctors identify children who have suffered abusive head trauma.

Because child abuse is hard to assess, doctors sometimes mistake abusive head trauma for the flu or illness, as the child’s only symptom is vomiting. Small signs like these often deter doctors from running more extensive tests like CAT scans or MRIs, even when there are other reasons to think about abuse.

Since 30% of kids with abusive head injuries are sent away without a proper diagnosis, Kempe is working to address this need. One of the identification tools Kempe is currently researching is FAST MRI. The FAST MRI has the ability to scan a child’s head in 3-5 minutes versus the 20-30 minutes a traditional MRI takes. Additionally, children would not be exposed to radiation through the use of a FAST MRI.

Kempe believes the FAST MRI can reduce the number of children who are sent away without a proper diagnosis being made. Once a proper diagnosis is made, children can receive proper treatment and begin to heal. It can save lives.

The Colorado Clinical Translational Sciences Initiative and The Colorado TBI Trust Fund recently provided funding that will enable Kempe to find a solution to address this gap in diagnosis.

Kempe is also partnering with Kohl’s Cares and Children’s Hospital Colorado on a public awareness campaign to prevent shaken baby syndrome, a form of abusive head trauma, called the Kohl’s Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention Campaign.

If you would like to support Kempe’s efforts in encouraging doctors to run blood tests to screen for liver lacerations or support our research to identify young victims with abusive head trauma through FAST MRIs, please consider making a donation to support our research and outreach.

Together, we are making a difference for children in Colorado and across the globe.

  1. Jenny C, Hymel KP, Ritzen A, Reinert SE, Hay TC. Analysis of missed cases of abusive head trauma. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association. Feb 17 1999;281(7):621-626.
  2. Lindberg DM, Shapiro RA, Blood EA, Steiner RD, Berger RP, for the ExSTRA investigators. Utility of Hepatic Transaminases in Children With Concern for Abuse. Pediatrics. Jan 14 2013.
  3. Barlow KM, Thomson E, Johnson D, Minns RA. Late neurologic and cognitive sequelae of inflicted traumatic brain injury in infancy. Pediatrics. Aug 2005;116(2):e174-185.
  4. Makoroff KL, Putnam FW. Outcomes of infants and children with inflicted traumatic brain injury. Dev Med Child Neurol. Jul 2003;45(7):497-502.

 

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