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Rare disease can mimic effects of child abuse

On behalf of Law Office of Ann A. Thomson, A Professional Law Corporation posted on Thursday, November 21, 2013.

In a case that could impact parents fighting for child custody in California and across the nation, a Texas family was broken apart after the father was falsely accused of child abuse. The little girl was later discovered to have a rare connective tissue disease, but not before authorities suspected the father of causing her injuries.

When the infant was just 3 months old, her father heard a noise as he changed her diaper and thought she might be hurt. He took her to a medical facility where medical professionals found a number of bone fractures. Physicians ruled the fractures intentional and reported suspected child abuse. The baby’s mother was in shock as law enforcement personnel told her that her husband had injured the little girl. When the father was charged with a second-degree felony, he couldn’t believe it.

After the couple discussed the situation further, they decided that a medical condition must have caused the fractures. The nanny and the baby’s doctor didn’t see any signs of abuse, and the baby had regular doctor visits because she was born prematurely. Specialists couldn’t find any medical conditions in the child that would explain the fractures. Finally, after another family that has also been accused of child abuse contacted them, they discovered that their daughter had Ehlers-Danlos, a condition that can lead to multiple bone fractures.

Sometimes, in divorce situations, a parent is falsely accused of physically abusing a child. While medical records can sometimes confirm or rule out physical abuse, it’s possible for a doctor to confuse damage caused by a medical disorder with signs of child abuse, as this story illustrates. Anyone in a child custodyfight who has been falsely accused of child abuse should be aware of this.

Source: WFAA, “Rare bone disease leads to bogus child abuse allegations“, Janet St. James, November 15, 2013


From offices in Seal Beach, the Law Office of Ann A. Thomson serves clients throughout Southern California in communities such as Seal Beach, Santa Ana, Brea, Yorba Linda, Fullerton, Corona Del Mar, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Dana Point, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Anaheim, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Norwalk, Torrance, Rancho Palos Verdes and Los Angeles.