Which bruise patterns are characteristic of physical child abuse?

Updated: Apr 24, 2017
  • Author: Angelo P Giardino, MD, MPH, PhD; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Answer

Bruising over bony prominences is common in childhood, but patterns of bruising that raise the concern of possible abuse include the following:

  • Involvement of multiple areas of the body beyond bony prominences

  • Bruising of ears, facial cheeks, buttocks, palms, soles, neck, genitals

  • Bruises at many stages of healing

  • Bruises in nonambulatory child

  • Patterned markings resembling objects, grab marks, slap marks, human bites, and loop marks

  • Oral injury, lingular or labial frenula tears


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