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The Doctors share medical condition mistaken for child abuse

Couple with a baby
Couple with a baby
Photo courtesy of

During the May 5 episode of The Doctors Show two couples share their story of mistaken child abuse. The couple’s infants were removed from their custody after unexplained fractures were discovered in the children’s body by their doctor.

One couple took their 3-month old to the doctor once they noticed one of the child’s feet and finger was swollen. A body scan of the child revealed 21 fractures that the doctor assumed were the result of abuse. The parents subsequently lost custody of the infant.

Another couple noticed their infant’s fontanel was bulging and he had bruises on his face. The child’s pediatrician discovered posterior rib fractures and two wrist fractures before reporting the injuries as child abuse.

Once the children’s vitamin D levels were tested the children were diagnosed with rickets. Rickets is a disorder that causes the softening and weakening of bones in children, usually due to an extreme and prolonged vitamin D deficiency.

The Doctors shared their experience when it comes to using personal judgment or following protocol in situations where abuse may be present. "We’re taught, as doctors, to err on the side of caution. You want to, at all costs, protect children," E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says. "And, of course, the question lingers: What if we’re wrong?"

Rickets is a common disease among infants especially in developing countries. It may also be a result of a lack of phosphorus and calcium in which severe cases of diarrhea and vomiting may be the cause.

Dr. Barton D. Schmitt authored a book that will help prepare parents for keeping their children in good health. Your Child's Health: The Parents' One-Stop Reference Guide to: Symptoms, Emergencies, Common Illnesses, Behavior Problems, and Healthy Development, shares what steps need to be taken during specific emergencies, when it is safe to treat your child at home, and when medical attention is needed.

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