☰ In this section

The Champion

Current Issue , Page 38 

Search the Champion Looking for something specific?

Preview of Member Only Content

For full access: login or Become a Member Join Now

Law, Child Abuse, and the Retina

By Evan Matshes, M.D. and Randy Papetti, Esq.

There is a longstanding, widespread belief in pediatric medicine that a finding of retinal hemorrhages in an infant or young child is strong evidence of child abuse. This belief originated decades ago as a cornerstone of a now-controversial diagnosis known as Shaken Baby Syndrome (“SBS”) or as Abusive Head Trauma (“AHT”). Decades of medical students have been taught that retinal hemorrhages in an infant or young child mean child abuse until proven otherwise.1 This dogma has had and continues to have enormous legal implications: expert testimony about retinal hemorrhages is powerful courtroom evidence, which prosecutors and child protection agencies have offered in thousands of criminal and family court cases.

This article urges that the beliefs about retinal hemorrhages are unreliable for legal purposes and, it seems, altogether wrong, yet they are key to the SBS/AHT diagnosis. Most debate in the case law about the forensic reliability of retinal hemorrhages is embedded in a broader dis

Want to read more?

The Champion archive is reserved for NACDL members.

NACDL members, please login to read the rest of this article.
login

Not a member? Join now.
Join Now
Or click here to see an overview of NACDL Member benefits.

See what NACDL members say about us.

To read the current issue of The Champion in its entirety, click here.

  • Media inquiries: Contact NACDL's Director of Public Affairs & Communications Ivan J. Dominguez at 202-465-7662 or idominguez@nacdl.org
  • Academic Requests: Full articles of The Champion Magazine are available for academic and research purposes in the WestLaw and LexisNexis databases.
Advertisement Advertise with Us
ad

In This Section

Advertisement Advertise with Us
ad