Volume 23, Issue 1 (January 1978)
The Identification of Battered-Infant Skeletons
The physical anthropologist dealing with forensic cases often examines the skeletons of children who have died either from accidental or natural causes or under circumstances suspicious of homicide. Also, the skeletal remains of infants and children of prehistoric populations are commonly examined. However, even experienced forensic anthropologists are not always familiar with the skeletal signs of an increasingly common phenomenon: the battered child [1–4]. It is improbable that a case of child abuse that did not result in fractures would be detected in skeletal remains, but severe cases involving multiple antemortem fractures in various stages of healing in anatomically regional patterns should be sufficient indication of prolonged, severe child abuse. If numerous fractures occurring about the time of death are present, the possibility of homicide must be considered. The following case is unusual in that three infants from the same family showed evidence of severe abuse and possible homicide.