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Rutgers study finds fingertip injuries in children could signal abuse

<p>Children who are treated roughly or have their hands slammed with an object may sustain fingertip injuries.&nbsp;</p>

Children who are treated roughly or have their hands slammed with an object may sustain fingertip injuries. 

A recent Rutgers study has found that many children who suffer from fingertip injuries have been abused, according to a University press release. Children with a documented history of abuse or neglect were found to be 23 percent more likely to suffer from a fingertip injury before the age of 12.

The study was first published in the “Journal of Hand Surgery Global Online,” and was the first study to examine the link between these injuries and a history of abuse, according to the release.

The researchers identified 79,108 children, from infancy to 12 years old, from a New York medical record database, according to the release. These children needed emergency treatment for fingertip injuries between 2004 and 2013.

“We found that children who had been coded at some point with physical abuse were more likely to have also been brought in for treatment of a fingertip injury,” said Alice Chu, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery and chief of the division of pediatric orthopedics at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, according to the release.

When a child is treated in a rough manner or when an abuser slams something on their hands, a child may suffer from resulting fingertips injuries, according to the article.

“There is no one injury type that is 100 percent predictive of child abuse, but all the small risk factors can add up,” Chu said, according to the release. “Since fingertip injuries are mostly inflicted by someone else — whether intentional or accidental — it should be a signal to physicians to look deeper into the child’s medical history for signs of neglect or physical abuse.”

If parents provide a vague medical history with contradictory information or if a child’s developmental stage is not consistent with the type of injury, the doctor may suspect abuse, according to the release. 

“Currently, pediatric fingertip injuries typically are not considered an injury of abuse but one of accidental trauma or a clumsy child who gets his finger caught in a door,” Chu said, according to the release. “Doctors need to see these instances as a possible injury from abuse or neglect so they can be on higher alert during the evaluation.”

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