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Misdiagnosed child abuse, yet again

Posted on: August 25, 2011   by  John Cannell, MD


I have written about false allegations of child physical abuse due to infantile rickets, until my own tears dried and turned to anger, all to no avail. I have tracked down the seminal papers on child physical abuse, only to see that some of the allegedly abused children actually have advanced rickets.

This week, readers can follow a family with a related bone disease, Osteogenesis imperfecta, one that, unlike rickets, fails to fully disappear when the infant is given vitamin D-rich baby formula. The medical condition stays around, and the child abuse industry has to explain persisting evidence of spontaneous fractures of abnormal bones.

Weathers H. They branded us abusers, stole our children and killed our marriage: parents of a boy with brittle bones attack social workers who claimed they beat him. Daily Mail. August 19, 2011.

However, with spontaneous fractures from infantile rickets, the evidence of the family’s innocence slowly fades away. The infant, under State care, is taken off the breast and put on the bottle; a bottle filled with the vitamin D the child needed to prevent rickets in the first place; a bottle filled with the vitamin D that will cure the infantile rickets in the several months it takes for the State to prepare to prosecute the innocent family. By that time, all evidence of infantile rickets has vanished, together with most friends and family.

If this story upsets you, multiply it by a thousand – my estimate of the number of families utterly destroyed every year by false allegations of physical abuse due to infantile rickets. Again, unlike Osteogenesis imperfecta, the medical evidence for the existence of infantile rickets begins to disappear as soon as the infant begins drinking the tiny amount of vitamin D contained in infant formula. Eventually, the parents of the now thriving child are left with no evidence, no defense, no recourse, no justice, and no child.

At least the above family has one thing that the falsely accused vitamin D deficient infantile rickets families will never have, the one thing the innocent value above all else: their innocence.


1 Response to Misdiagnosed child abuse, yet again

  1. Brant Cebulla

    See past newsletters of readers who have written to Dr. Cannell with similar stories of tragedy:

    Also, visit our section in Health Conditions under “Musculoskeletal” for summaries on falls and fractures, Paget’s disease, Osteoporosis and Osteomalacia. While they are a good source of general information now, we hope to be adding highly in depth and detailed summaries in the near future.

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