The concept of child maltreatment, defined as harm to a child because of abnormal child-rearing practices, is a broadening of the initial description of the battered child syndrome. Child maltreatment is an all-inclusive term covering physical abuse; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; parental substance abuse; physical, nutritional, and emotional neglect; supervisional neglect; and Munchausen syndrome by proxy.1
The ease with which physicians are able to recognize these disorders in part depends on their knowledge of normal children and normal development. The physical stigmata of maltreatment are characteristic, although the findings of neglect and sexual abuse are more subtle than those of gross physical trauma.
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