Infants (children <12 months of age) are maltreated at more than twice the rate of any other child age group, and infants die because of maltreatment at 3 times the rate of any other age group in childhood. The incidence of hospitalization for serious physical abuse in children also is highest for infants. Successful recognition of medically mild signs of physical abuse in infants, such as certain bruising patterns, can, therefore, lead to lifesaving interventions. The importance of the recognition of medically mild injuries due to physical abuse is underscored by the finding that a high percentage of infants (27.5%) hospitalized with serious physical abuse were found to have previously sustained milder injuries, such as bruising. Clinicians must be aware of patterns of bruising suggestive of abuse to distinguish between infants who have been abused and those who have been accidentally injured. To maximize the likelihood that abused infants will be identified and protected, as well to minimize the likelihood that an accidentally injured infant will be mischaracterized as abused, the application of an evidence-based approach to the evaluation of bruised infants should be applied. A consistent, evidence-based practice in this setting also may reduce the influence of racial and socioeconomic bias and decrease disparities in care.

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