Babies are more vulnerable to serious head injury during a fall than had been previously thought, according to new research that may also begin to help child abuse investigators distinguish between accidental and intentional injury.
Whitaker investigator Susan Margulies of the University of Pennsylvania found that rotational forces generated by a babys head hitting a hard surface can cause widespread, potentially serious brain injury. This can include internal bleeding, which can damage tissue and alter brain function, and nerve cell damage, which can impair thinking, sensation, and other mental functions.
Infant falls are often dismissed as relatively benign because the head is assumed to be moving in a straight line at impact, Margulies said. Linear motions are associated with such localized injuries as skull fractures.
Frank Blanchard | The Whitaker Foundation
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