Child Abuse and Neglect (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Exams and Tests
A maltreated child who is taken to a doctor will first have a general physical exam. Also, the child's medical history will be reviewed, and parents or caregivers will be questioned about the child's condition. A child who is able to talk will be separated from the caregiver during the interview.
Signs of sexual abuse may not be identified during a physical exam. Not all types of sexual abuse leave physical signs. Also, many types of sexual abuse injuries heal quickly. But if a child is examined soon after the incident, a doctor is more likely to observe and record the symptoms and be able to take samples for lab analysis.
Tests that are frequently used to help confirm or rule out suspected abuse or neglect include:
Other exams and tests done to help confirm child abuse or neglect vary depending on the specific medical problem suspected or observed. For example, psychological testing may be requested for some children. Victims of suspected sexual abuse may be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.
Other children in the care of a suspected abuser may also be examined and have X-rays if law enforcement or medical personnel investigating the case think it is necessary.
When a baby's death may be related to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), medical professionals and police officers will conduct a thorough investigation to rule out abuse or neglect. These people are trained to be sensitive to grieving parents. No one is at fault when a baby dies from SIDS. For more information, see the topic Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
A child's injuries and related information are carefully recorded. This documentation provides a detailed account of the injuries for the child's permanent health record and usually includes photographs and drawings of the injuries. Measurements (weight, height, and head circumference) are also taken and recorded to help establish a child's baseline growth pattern. Recording these measurements on growth charts can help identify failure to thrive that sometimes is related to neglect. Neglect or other types of abuse may not be diagnosed immediately.
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