Home > Skull Fracture-Child Abuse Or An Accident? > Skull Fracture-Child Abuse Or An Accident?

Skull Fracture-Child Abuse Or An Accident?

Ivan Blumenthal

In November, 1999, a Bangladeshi boy aged 8 months was admitted to hospital with a linear parietal fracture. The mother had noticed a haematoma on the right side of his head and had consulted her general practitioner who arranged a skull radiograph. There were no retinal haemorrhages or other injuries. A skeletal survey was normal.
The parents, both unemployed, were the child’s only carers. They also had a daughter aged 18 months. The parents were unable to provide an explanation for the injury. They were adamant that the boy had not fallen or been dropped. On the day before admission his mother was alone with the two children, when she heard him scream. At the time she was in the kitchen adjoining the lounge, where the children were playing with a toy aeroplane. When she left the room the boy had been sitting on a carpeted floor. After the scream she found him lying on his side and his sister who was holding the aeroplane was standing next to him.

Toy aeroplane (above) believed to have caused linear parietal fracture.
The child was admitted to hospital for 3 weeks, after which the local authority obtained an interim care order. Both children were removed from the parents and initially placed in foster care before being moved to their grandparent’s home. Eventually, after social-worker assessment they were reunited with their parents.
A linear parietal fracture is a common accidental injury in infants. It usually occurs when children are dropped or fall from a height. It is because this explanation is so plausible that many inflicted injuries are said to have been caused accidentally. These parents, who claimed not to know the cause, insisted that he had not fallen or been dropped despite their awareness of the probability that he would be removed from their care. Such behaviour would be unusual had the injury been inflicted. The likely cause of the fracture was a freak accident, which could not be explained, because it was not witnessed. The aeroplane (480 g) probably landed on the boy’s head after it had been dropped or tossed in the air by his sister, who was 79 cm in height. She did not have sufficient strength to forcefully bang it against his head.
There is evidence that shows that on impact the momentum resulting from short falls can cause skull fracture. Still-born babies allowed to fall 41 cm head down onto a paved surface sustained skull fractures.1 Weber showed that skull fractures occurred when cadaver infants were dropped 82 cm onto a firm surface.2 In a survey of children under age 3 years, who presented to an emergency department a third had parietal fractures after falling from a height less than 60 cm (beds and chairs).3 There is a report of a child of 7 months who sustained a depressed fracture after falling out of bed into a toy car.4 In the literature there are reports of fractures from falling domestic objects such as television sets, but no reports of fractures caused by falling toys.5
This case report shows that a heavy toy falling a short distance onto an infant’s head can cause a fracture. As toys become more complex and heavier this message should not be lost on toy manufacturers. The report also highlights the plight of some innocent families that arises from our desire to protect children.


1 Taylor AS. Medical jurisprudence. Philadelphia: Blanchard and Lee, 1856.
2 Weber W. Zur biomechanischen Fragilitat des Sauglingsschadels. Zeitschrift fur Rechtsmedizin 1985; 94: 93-101. PubMed
3 Levethal JM, Thomas SA, Rosenfield NS, Makowitz RI. Fractures in young children, distinguishing child abuse from unintentional injuries. AJDC 1993; 147: 87-92. PubMed
4 Wheeler DS, Shope TR. Depressed skull fracture in 7-month old who fell from bed. Pediatrics 1997; 100: 1033-1034. PubMed
5 Bernard PA, Johnston C, Curtiss SE, King WD. Toppled television sets cause significant pediatric morbidity and mortality. Paediatrics 1998; 102: E32. PubMed
a Department of Paediatrics, The Royal Oldham Hospital, Oldham OL1 2JH, UK



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  1. September 15, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Thanks for sharing, I was looking around and really like this site

  2. fozia
    November 4, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Hi, i hav read the above an its jus as similar story to mine. I am having the same problem with my little boy who nw is 1. i also noticed swelling on his right side ov his head and took him to a hospital. they recoverd an fracture in his skull. i also hav 2 other children. an al three have been taken away from me. iv gave am an explaination but doctors say its still unexplained. im really scared that i mite loose all 3 children for ever. can doctors get it wrong?

    • November 4, 2010 at 10:08 pm

      Yes. Doctors do get it wrong and in these cases many times. Please email me at medmisonline@gmail.com and I would be happy to assist you and your family.

      • January 3, 2013 at 6:33 pm

        hi cps trying to take my kids from nneed help

      • January 3, 2013 at 6:46 pm

        Hello Kevin. Please write us at medmisonline@gmail.com and give us more details as to your situation. Also include where you are located and whether or not you have legal counsel. We will try to assist you.

      • January 3, 2013 at 9:31 pm

        I don’t use my email

      • January 3, 2013 at 9:37 pm

        Hello Kevin. I did get your email to medmisonline@gmail.com and just responded to you there. I am hoping that you will use your email to communicate with me as each case is a very personal matter and I’d rather not communicate on an open blog. We are wanting to assist you so please feel free to write back with the information we indicated on the email. Take Care.

    • Gemma McComish
      April 6, 2011 at 6:28 am

      I am going threw the same thing now and it was also my sons right side an he turned 1 3 wks after we noticed the soft tissue lump on his head, we took him to hospital to be sent to the gp to be sent for an x.ray an be told to wait for a wk for the results (this was a tues) when the sat came i was still not happy an took him to a and e, we have now had a section 20 put on us by social services an will be going to court! there are no indications to me of when my son injured his head he is a crier anyway and i have never noticed him cry a substantial amount of what i would Imagen an injury as such would cause, i would really love to know how you are getting on with your case and maybe swap some details xx

      • April 6, 2011 at 9:05 pm

        Hello Gemma. I am sorry to hear of your situation. There can be a differential diagnosis for skull fractures one of which is injury occurring through the birth process. If you are in need of medical experts to review your case and/or legal representation please email me and I can assist you with these connections.

    • Ana
      August 13, 2012 at 7:32 pm

      Omg!!! A similar happened to my bbyvoy!!! He fell from inside of hiscarseat being on is stroller ontoour floor thats cement tile he was taken and they think I beat my bby hes only 10mths im afaid too.. I hope u get this pls let me nowwhat happend to u u can email me anaychulo@gmail.com

      • August 13, 2012 at 10:00 pm

        Hello Ana. I have emailed you privately this evening. Thank you for sharing and we will do what we can to assist you.

  3. rhiannon dean
    April 25, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    hi, i read the above case and i am going through a very similar situation i just want to know if a 16 month old boy could sustain a skull fracture from falling from a table onto a hard floor. Thank you.

    • April 25, 2011 at 10:32 pm

      Hello. Thank you for your question. I also received your personal email to me and responded, but will also do so here. Yes. A baby can receive a skull fracture from falling from this distance onto a hard floor. Also research shows that a baby can receive these fractures from falls less than this. Fractures can even occur on softer floor surfaces as well and from an object landing on the baby.

  4. megan
    August 9, 2011 at 6:50 am

    Hi, my daughter is 2 n half years old n this is basically what happened no one seen what happened and all she had was a goose egg on back of her head n doctors are saying that she has a skull fracture n there no way it could be accidental. They are now pinning it all on my boyfriend who was home at the time. He said he heard a thud n went to check on her n she ran to her chair then started having a seizure. Im confused on how this could have happened. There is alot more details but is there anyway this could be a freak accident?

    • November 30, 2011 at 8:41 pm

      We are now discovering that these symptoms can also be the results of accidental injuries. A biomechanic would best be able to analyze the accident versus injuries and determine for you an outcome, but, it can be just that – an accident.

  5. mlhorn
    August 20, 2011 at 7:48 am

    I have a similar case. My son is being charges with 1st degree assault w/ personal bodily injury for an accident he already admitted to doing. Back in January he came home from work one morning heard the baby crying (at the time he was 4 wks old) went in to get him and upon leaving the room accidently bumped his head on the door jam. Several hours later they noticed a bump on his head and that he wasn’t acting right. They took him to the hospital where they pronounced him in critical condition and had him air lifted to the local children’s hospital. My son’s been incarcerated this whole time awaiting trial in January, even his own attourney believes he is lying about it being an accident, because the medical staff is insisting it had to be intentional with the amount of damage done. How can we convince the courts otherwise.

    • November 30, 2011 at 8:45 pm

      Thank you for sharing your situation with us. Has your son’s legal counsel obtained full disclosure of the medical records and retained the relevant medical experts to conduct a review of the diagnosis? If you could send me a private email at medmisonline@gmail.com I will be able to assist you further.

    • Adrienne
      June 20, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      I am so sorry that u and and your fmaily are going through this. On a Friday i very lightly grazed my five week old’s head accidentaly on a sharp part of my bathroom wall. There was a small red mark but, an hour later it was gone and she was fine. Four days later I noticed a goose egg sized bump on her head and it occured to me that it was the same spot that hit the wall! I immediately took her to Children’s hospital near me and she was diagnosed with a linear skull fracture! I was in shock!!! Thankfully, she will be fine!!! A social worker visited our room and I told her the story and we left with our baby with no incidence. I am sorry because I know first hand that this can VERY EASILY happen accidentally. I wish u and ur family the best!

  6. confused
    November 30, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    My husband and I are also going through a similar situation right now. My 2 month old is very proactive and is a bobble head. He hits his head off our faces multiple times a day almost everyday. My husband was feeding my son and was burping him, my son threw himself back and then forward and smashed into my husbands chin. My husband noticed swelling so we took him to the ER where they found a “Right non-depressed parietal skull fracture”, “Right frontal/parietal subdural hemorrhage”, and “Small interhemisperic subdural hemorrhage”. The hospital is trying to charge my husband with child abuse, and my husband has been removed from our home. Do you have any suggestions or be willing to help us out in finding an alternate cause? Maybe birth? We are completely lost and dont know where to go from here.

    • November 30, 2011 at 8:49 pm

      Thank you for writing. There can be many factors involved in a medical case and not only do we look at the accident that occurred, but we also have to review pregnancy records and full medical history of the child to determine other possible causes or influences on an injury. Yes. Birth history is also considered. Fractures have been recorded in both vaginal and C-Section births. Prematurity, genetics… I can assist you with this if you write me a private email at medmisonline@gmail.com.

  7. Dustin Purdy
    November 30, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Is it possible for a 2 month old to recieve a fracture such as this and subdural bleeding from flinging back and then forward into a chin of the father?

    • November 30, 2011 at 8:53 pm

      A full medical history is needed in order to provide an accurate answer to you, but it is possible.

  8. Stephanie Rogers
    December 11, 2011 at 11:40 am

    My daughter and son in-law are going thru a similar thing their 21 day old twin son so woke up in the morning and had a swelling on the right side of his head. They took him into the hospital and and were told he had a skull fracture from the top right side to the cheek, Neither my daugth not son in law have any idea how it could have happened as thee baby was never ropped. How ever they do have older sybling one in particulae that has a tendancy to throw things. And they think he may have thrown a toy or plate at the baby while he was in his swing which is one of the new swing that are open on top and very close the the ground. this same child has throw an emply baby bottle hard to hit his mom in the nose and cause her nose to bleed for 20 Min. The doctor at the hospital states that an 18 month old does not have enough strength to cause the injury on the babies head. We were able to bail out my daughter however my son in law is still in jail under a second degree felony with the attempted homicide to a child. Can you please help. We are deserate to get our family back together as the other childern have been placed with other family members right now. In our state it has become quite a high profile event for child abuse. Please Please help. Thank You

  9. mark lellis
    February 16, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    hi i was just wondering if this site is still operated as there has been no new posts for a while. i have some questions that would be great to get answers to i have left my email address and am hopfull of a reply

    • February 19, 2012 at 10:29 pm

      Yes. The site is still active, but due to personal reasons I have not been as available to update the site and have had to forward inquiries on. I would be happy however to correspond with you through email and answer any questions you would like to put to me. Please feel free to write me at medmisonline@gmail.com.

  10. Laura Dempsey
    March 15, 2012 at 11:07 am

    I am happy i have found this website… now i know i am not the only person going through this horrible situation….

    On the 22nd December 2011 I placed my 6 week only baby in a baby carrier for the first time. This carrier straps to your front and the baby sits facing you.
    (Later I found that the carrier had been recalled in 2005 due to manufacturing problems)
    while preparing bottles I turned suddenly to walk towards the door and my baby slid out the side of the carrier and fell to the floor. It all happened so fast that I didn’t turn back till I heard the ‘slap’ of her head hitting the tiled ceramic floor. I am 5’6 so I estimate the fall being around 5ft and my baby weighing around 8lb.
    my immediate reaction was to pick her straight up and in a state of panic I called for an ambulance. We were taken to Warrington hospital, England. Then immediately taken to Alder Hey children’s hospital.

    my baby girl Amelia suffered multiple fractures to her skull (bi lateral fracture) and bleeding around the skull which was later confirmed by a haematologist consultant that the bleed was a direct result of the fractures.
    The two fractures are opposite to each other. Swelling appeared on Amelia’s right side above her ear then shortly after more swelling appeared on the left side.
    She has had two CAT scans.
    Two MRI scans.
    And a 2 full skeletal scans.

    Medical statements
    Amelia’s blood tests have all came back normal and there are no other
    injuries. We have received a stamen from the radiographer stating that all injuries were accidental.
    We have also received a stamen from the child protection paediatrician stating it accidental. (Rainbow team)

    But one consultant (neonatal) has stated it a NON-ACCIDENTAL injury.
    This has resulted Amelia being taken from my care until a finding of fact hearing has came to a conclusion in family court.

    We have waited 11 weeks for the neonatal consultant to give his statement in which time he retracted till he was funded. I am currently suffering from PTSD due to the fall and I feel like this man is ruining my life.

    • September 2, 2012 at 12:53 pm

      I feel ur pain going through it as well the injuries sound quite alike where are you with your case..

  11. Terry Standifer
    March 26, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    My son has been in County Jail for 10 years now. Went to trial and has been found guilty of murder. Has always told police that child fell down stairs; however, police claim that “he must have thrown child down stairs.” Police have painted a picture; claiming that he must have taken out beef against child’s father, against child.

    As a mother, I am begging for help. I know that my Son loves children; and, would never have intentionally hurt this child. Dr. Van Ee testified in first trial. Current attorney, claims that the Dr. states he wants nothing to do with this case?

    • March 28, 2012 at 7:40 pm

      Hello Terry. I am terribly sorry for the ordeal you and your son are going through. Dr. Van Ee is an excellent biomechanic. If you would like assistance please email me at medmisonline@gmail.com. Also I could make further inquiries with Dr Van Ee for you as he is one of the experts we work with. Let me know…

  12. sandy
    April 29, 2012 at 5:39 am

    My daughter had a fracture skull when she was 16 days old….now she is 2. I would like to know if it would affect her as she gets older,or wat symptoms she would probably have…..thank u

  13. Clare
    July 1, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    I’m going through a very similar problem right now, we believe the linear parietal fracture to have happened at birth because 1; the midwife gave me an intensely painful sweep and felt the babies head move and click inside of me, 2; he was posterior so when I was pushing him out they had to rotate him, 3; a student midwife broke my waters with an ARM device, she had never done it before and kept poking me quite hard even though I told her she’d broken my waters and she hadn’t noticed. The hospital are trying to tell us that it didn’t happen at birth (obviously!) and that he fell from a height or had a blow to the head. He hasn’t had either! They told us initially the fracture had been healing, then they told us there was one fracture, now there is two, they said there was still swelling and dated it one to two weeks. I have photos of when my son was born IN HOSPITAL with scalp swelling. He’s had it since birth yet they are totally disregarding all the evidence I have. He was also born with a bad subconjuntival hemorrage in the eye the same side the fracture is on. I know it is a common birth injury but it can also indicate a trauma to the head. The fact they are disregarding that questions thier competance to be honest, and when they give the medical report to the CPS it’s going to be written in such a way I’m sure will want to go to court.

  14. August 31, 2012 at 7:09 am

    I am in the same boat.. I am under investigation with my 3 mos old son. Last Friday we both fell as I was standing up.. called 911 got him to hosp. He had a fracture in front where he fell he was transported to a nother hospital. Where they found old blood and 2 more fractures over the left and right sides of his ears he has now been taken and I hv been left accused.. I hv no explination for the 2 fractures or old blood and they are taking me through.. I can use all advice I can gt please help. He was also 11 weeks premature.

    • August 31, 2012 at 4:16 pm

      I hv saw no replys plz I need advice on this…

    • August 31, 2012 at 6:39 pm

      Hello Alnur. Your child was quite premature, which in itself points to the possibility of bone fragility. I will email you privately this evening and see what we can do to assist you.

  15. Ira
    September 2, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    My mother says that my brother fell out of bed when he was a baby and sustained a skull fracture. (why was he unattended and also why wasn’t he in a crib like a normal infant?) I think my mother abused him and gave him the fracture(she really had a temper and was prone to hitting when angry). Do you think that she is possibly lying?

    • September 6, 2012 at 9:46 pm

      Hello Ira. There are sure to be many unanswered questions of events so long ago, but one thing is certain in that falls from this distance can and do cause serious injuries to infants including skull fractures and internal bleeding. I just attended our annual conference and listened to a biomechanical presentation on this type of issue and the science truly supports injury by this mechanism. The only means of being positive though is to have a biomechanical analysis of the situation.

  16. Kelly
    April 16, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Hey, I’ve been through this with my little girl only last Sunday it happened. She was in her highchair strapped in but wiggled out of it and as soon as I went to get her tea she was stood up and fell out onto hard flooring. We took her hospital straight away to of found out her (r) side of her skull was fractured. She doing perfect now and is very happy! We didn’t have any social services involved just had one visit off children’s services to check out our story and no more involvement. She has only just turned 11 months on the 15th. X

  17. ida-mary
    June 11, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    I brought my 9 mouth old to er after a high fever with strange behavior. After they dis some test and a ct the doctor said she had a skull fracture that had healed. I dont know how or when she had gotten it and since it couldnt be explained DSS is investigatingand we have to be supervised. How could I have not seen any symptons to this?

  18. Teresa
    May 1, 2014 at 5:22 am

    this is happening to me and my family at the moment my grandson was 14 months at the time he fall off his Booster seat still strapped in when he tried to grab the dog that was walking by him mum phoned 999 ambulance came oout there was blood on his baby grow he looked in his ears and mouth said there was no other brusies and letf 3 weeks later I find a lump on right side of head xray done and fracture found my wee man was taken into care 19th Jan they have not taken into consideration that he has rare desease Kawasaki and that he has been on a high dosage of Asprin sinve July 2013 and for 6-8 weeks high dosage od Steroids. One person advised it was appliable to 3ft fall we measured booster chair and guess what it was over 3ft now we have proved that they are saying it is equilivent to falling down stairs with him. at a loss really what to do or feel. There is no other explainiation other than he head bangs when he is in a temper but they say that is not a explainiation he is so loved and being that mum dad and wee man live with me I would have known if anything un toward had happened but we are still going through the courts.

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