Parents of infants and toddlers who have been diagnosed with OI can take steps to avoid being falsely accused of abusing their child.
Carry documentation of the diagnosis -- a letter from the child’s primary care physician or orthopedist that includes weekend and night-time contact information
Meet with the supervising physician of the emergency department at their local hospital
Plan ahead with their child’s orthopedist about how to handle fractures that occur at night, on weekends or over holidays when emergency rooms are often under staffed
OI or Child Abuse?
False accusations of child abuse may occur in families with children who have milder forms of OI and/or when OI has not previously been diagnosed. It is estimated that about 35% of children diagnosed with OI are born into families with no history of the condition. Symptoms that are typically observed in both child abuse and OI include:
Fractures in multiple stages of healing
Fractures that are more severe than expected from the explanation offered by the caregiver
The OI Foundation can provide information about osteogenesis imperfecta, how it is inherited and how it is diagnosed. It cannot evaluate the merits of specific child abuse allegations. The OI Foundation recommends that when concerns arise about fractures seen in infants and young children that the possibility of underlying medical causes be fully explored.
"The possibility of congenital disorders should be considered when children fracture, especially with little trauma."*
* From Bone Health & Osteoporosis, A Surgeon General Report, page 191.
"Health care professionals working in emergency room departments and orthopedic practices also have an important role. They must recognize that many bone fractures signal the potential for bone disease, and go beyond fixing patient's bones by referring them, when appropriate, to another health care professional for further assessment of the potential of bone disease." *
*From Bone Health & Osteoporosis, A Surgeon General Report, page 351.
"In some cases, especially in fractures in infants, referrals to a pediatric specialist who deals with metabolic bone disease will be necessary." *
*From Bone Health & Osteoporosis, A Surgeon General Report, page 260.