January 1, 1973

Slaughter of the Innocents

Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1973;223(1):81-82. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220010067034

To the Editor.—  In 1961 Dr. Adelson described the "slaughter of the innocents,"1 followed a year later by the article of Kempe et al2 defining the battered child syndrome.Now Adelson has written an article on the battering child,3 defining another problem. All the victims in his study died. Fortunately, the outcome need not be as disastrous, as illustrated by the following two cases from my private practice.A 6-month-old girl was examined because of an unexplained hematoma of the right side of the head. Results of neurologic examination were normal. Skull roentgenogram demonstrated multiple fractures of the right occipital and parietal bones. There was no evidence of child abuse. In retrospect, the mother remembered that a 5-year-old mentally retarded sibling had been playing, unsupervised, with the victim in a room with a cement floor. Further injury has not occurred. Four years later the patient is normal.