Experts Debate Whether Current Criteria For Child Abuse Should Be Reviewed
In a special THE DOCTORS investigation on Monday, May 5 (check your local listings), the Emmy® Award-winning daytime syndicated series takes a look at the possibility that among thousands of child abuse cases, there may in fact be a number of misdiagnosed cases of Rickets, caused by vitamin D deficiencies. In a heated debate, experts on all sides of the issue discuss whether current criteria for diagnosing child abuse should be reevaluated.
The show features interviews with two families who were accused of child abuse after x-rays showed their infants had fractures that are typically indicative of abuse. Not only were their kids taken from the home, but the parents were prosecuted for child abuse, while dealing with Child Protective Services employees, and in one case, they sought to terminate their parental rights and put their baby up for adoption. They went through thousands of dollars in attorneys’ and doctors’ fees before eventually proving their innocence.
Special guest Dr. David Ayoub claims these unexplained fractures are sometimes being misdiagnosed as abuse when it is actually a vitamin D deficiency. This is a hidden problem that can actually cause bones to appear on an x-ray as if they’ve been broken. “The growth rates in the first three months of life are so rapid that a child doesn’t develop a classical form of Rickets,” explains Ayoub. “It is Acute Infantile Rickets. They can go from normal one week to multiple fractures the next week.” Child abuse expert and pediatric radiologist Dr. Thomas Slovis counters with evidence from The Institute of Medicine suggesting the “epidemic” of vitamin D deficiency is “grossly overdone.”
“There are certain types of fractures that we are taught are pathognomonic for child abuse,” says host Dr. Travis Stork. “The challenge is that it isn’t always obvious. We’re taught as doctors to always err on the side of caution. You want to, at all costs, protect children and of course the question lingers sometimes, ‘What if we’re wrong?’ It is such a tough call, as a doctor, to call Child Protective Services.”
Tune in on Monday, May 5 for the complete story and discover how these families managed to prove their innocence. Plus, find out about a new GPS-guided technique for knee replacement surgery.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.