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Child Abuse

Spiral Fracture of the Humerus



A nine month old child was brought into the emergency room with a spiral fracture of the humerus, the mother explains that the child had crawled over to the arm of the couch and then fell off landing on her elbow and then rolling over it. The fall was about 2 1/2 feet and the floor was carpeted. The child is 22 pounds but average height. Could this happen like the mother explains?


Yes, this sounds like a plausible explanation.  I assume that you are asking this question because there is some other workup in progress for possible physical child abuse.

In the majority of scenarios when a young child is found to have a fracture child abuse should be considered and ruled-out.

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Response by:

Robert Shapiro, MD
Professor of Clinical Pediatrics
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati