Abuser's Gender Affects Head Trauma Outcome in Youth

Male perpetrators of abusive head trauma more likely to confess and be convicted

MONDAY, March 7 (HealthDay News) -- Male perpetrators of abusive head trauma in children are more likely to confess and be convicted, and their victims are more likely to have more serious presentations and worse outcomes, according to a study published online March 7 in Pediatrics.

Debra Esernio-Jenssen, M.D., of Shands Children's Hospital in Gainesville, Fla., and colleagues investigated the effect of a perpetrator's gender on victim presentation and outcomes, and legal outcomes for perpetrators of abusive head trauma. A retrospective chart review identified 34 cases of abusive head trauma with identified perpetrators. Clinical information and information about legal outcomes were taken from medical records and analyzed based on the perpetrator's gender.

The researchers found 17 cases perpetrated by each gender. Male perpetrators tended to be younger (median age, 27 years versus 34 years for females). They also confessed and were convicted significantly more often than women. The victims of male perpetrators had more serious acute presentations, including cardiopulmonary or respiratory arrest; were more likely to require neurosurgery; and had worse outcomes, including death.

"Additional research is needed to determine if perpetrator disparities for victim presentations and outcomes are gender dependent or rather attributable to the physical size of their perpetrators," the authors write.

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