Low Vitamin D Levels May Not Be Behind Unexplained Bone Fractures in Infants
"I didn't bust the guy's jaw, your honor, honest. He must have them there, whaddya call 'em, vitamin D deficiencies. Yeah, that's it."
That line may not work if you deck another grown-up, but if you're accused of abusing a baby, who knows? The vitamin D defense has worked before.
That may not be true much longer. Reuters reports scientists are rethinking low vitamin D levels as a cause of unexplained bone fractures in children. Suspicious eyes may be returning to more inhumanly human factors.
Captain Kanagaroo was right. vitamin D is essential for building strong bones and teeth. Severe vitamin D deficiencies have been known to soften bones and leave children prey to rickets, as well as abnormalities such as bowed legs and severe spinal curvatures.
Some scientists believe low vitamin D levels produce many of the same conditions found in children thought to be abused.
Not really, researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia tell Reuters. They measured vitamin D levels in 108 babies and toddlers brought in for broken bones. Out of every 10 fractures, seven were because of accidents and three were because of abusive slimeballs.
According to Reuters, researchers found low vitamin D levels were common -- but no more common among the children thought to be victims of abuse.
"Our study indicates that a low vitamin D level should not discourage consideration of abuse when a child presents with unexplained fractures," lead researcher Samantha Schilling tells Reuters.
That doesn't mean all unexplained fractures are the result of abuse.
"I believe that not just vitamin D deficiency, but a number of other bone disorders, can cause fractures that can readily be misinterpreted as child abuse," Colin R. Paterson, a retired staff physician at the University of Dundee in Scotland, tells Reuters.
"It has often been assumed, that if parents are unable to provide an explanation for fractures, they must be lying about assaults inflicted by themselves or others," he adds.
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