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The following is a summary of the systematic review findings up to the date of our most recent literature search. If you have a specific clinical case, we strongly recommend you read all of the relevant references as cited and look for additional material published outside our search dates.


 Mimickers of Intentional Burns


  • Of 289 studies reviewed (12 foreign language articles), 30 studies included where various conditions were initially considered to be caused by abuse 1-30
  • Study design:
    All case study / series
  • Total data: 50 children
    • 17/18 studies included for accidental cause had ranking of accident A or B 1-3,6-8,10,11,16,17,19-21,23,24,26,28
    • The remaining studies included miscellaneous skin conditions
  • Age range: 0-15 years 
  • Gender:
    Where data broken down by gender, 17 girls, 16 boys
  • No study addressed the diagnosis of mimickers of intentional scalds in disabled children


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  1. Asnes RS, Wisotsky DH. Cupping lesions simulating child abuse. The Journal of Pediatrics. 1981;99(2):267-268 [Pubmed citation only]
  2. Botash AS, Sveen AR, Frasier LD. Child abuse—or mimic? Is there a medical explanation? Possible burns in two children. Consultant. 2004;44(2):232-237 [Extract from]
  3. Campbell AN, Cooper CE, Dahl MGC. "Non-accidental injury" and wild parsnips. British Medical Journal. 1982;284(6317):708 [Pubmed citation only]
  4. Dannaker CJ, Glover RA, Goltz RW. Phytophotodermatitis: A mystery case report. Clinical Pediatrics. 1988;27(6):289-290 [Pubmed citation only]
  5. Dar NR, Raza N, Rehman SB. Millipede burn at an unusual site mimicking child abuse in an 8-year-old girl. Clinical Pediatrics. 2008;47(5):490-492 [Pubmed citation only]
  6. Denic N, Huyer DW, Sinal SH, Lantz PE, Smith CR, Silver MM. Cockroach: the omnivorous scavenger. Potential misinterpretation of postmortem injuries. American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology. 1997;18(2):177-180 [Pubmed]
  7. Diez F, Berger TG. Scarring due to an enuresis blanket. Pediatric Dermatology. 1988;5(1):58-60 [Pubmed]
  8. Feldman KW. Pseudoabusive burns in Asian refugees. American Journal of Dieases of Children. 1984;138(8):768-769 [Pubmed]
  9. Feldman KW. Pseudoabusive burns in Asian refugees. Child Abuse and Neglect. 1995;19(5):657-658 [Pubmed citation only]
  10. Feldman KW. Confusion of innocent pressure injuries with inflicted dry contact burns. Clinical Pediatrics. 1995;34(2):114-115 [Pubmed citation only]
  11. Girardin BW, Stevenson S. Millipedes: health consequences. Journal of Emergency Nursing. 2002;28(2):107-110 [Pubmed citation only]
  12. Grellner W, Metzner G. Kindesmißhandlung durch thermische Gewalt: Abgrenzung und Rekonstruktion [German] [Child abuse caused by thermal violence--determination and reconstruction]. Archiv für Kriminologie. 1995;195(1):38-46 [Pubmed]
  13. Gruson LM, Chang MW. Berloque dermatitis mimicking child abuse. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. 2002;156(11):1091-1093 [Pubmed]
  14. Heider TR, Priolo D, Hultman CS, Peck MD, Cairns BA. Eczema mimicking child abuse: a case of mistaken identity. Journal of Burn Care & Rehabilitation. 2002;23(5):357-359 [Pubmed]
  15. Hill P, Pickford M, Parkhouse N. Phytophotodermatitis mimicking child abuse. The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 1997;90(10):560-561 [Pubmed]
  16. Ho WS, Ying SY, Wong TW. Bizarre paediatric facial burns. Burns. 2000;26(5):504-506 [Pubmed]
  17. Howieson AJ, Harley OJH, Tiernan EP. Laundry detergent and possible nonaccidental injury. European Journal of Emergency Medicine. 2007;14(3):163-164 [Pubmed]
  18. Inman JK. Cetrimide allergy presenting as suspected non-accidental injury. British Medical Journal. 1982;284(6313):385 [Pubmed citation only]
  19. Leventhal JM, Griffin D, Duncan KO, Starling S, Christian CW, Kutz T. Laxative-induced dermatitis of the buttocks incorrectly suspected to be abusive burns. Pediatrics. 2001;107(1):178-179 [Pubmed citation only]
  20. Levin AV, Selbst SM. Vulvar hemangioma simulating child abuse. Clinical Paediatrics. 1988;27(4):213-215 [Pubmed]
  21. Loh N, Porter W, Webb M. The obvious 'non-accidental injury'. Irish Medical Journal. 2005;98(7):217-218 [Pubmed citation only]
  22. Mehta AJ, Statham BN. Phytophotodermatitis mimicking non-accidental injury or self-harm. European Journal of Pediatrics. 2007;166(7):751-752 [Pubmed citation only]
  23. Mercer DM. Cetrimide burn in an infant. Postgraduate Medical Journal. 1983;59(693):472-473 [Pubmed citation only]
  24. Nields H, Kessler SC, Boisot S, Evans R. Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome presenting as suspected child abuse. The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology. 1998;19(1):93-97 [Pubmed]
  25. Oates RK. Overturning the diagnosis of child abuse. Archives of Disease in Childhood. 1984;59(7):665-666 [Pubmed]
  26. Porzionato A, Aprile A. Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome mimicking child abuse by burning. Forensic Science International. 2007;168(1):e1-e4 [Pubmed]
  27. Sandler AP, Haynes V. Nonaccidental trauma and medical folk belief: a case of cupping. Pediatrics. 1978;61(6):921-922 [Pubmed citation only]
  28. Sinha M, Salness R, Foster KN, Fenn R, Hannasch C. Accidental foot burns in children from contact with naturally heated surfaces during summer months: experience from a regional burn center. Journal of Trauma Injury Infection & Critical Care. 2006;61(4):975-978 [Pubmed]
  29. Spencer JA, Grieve DK. Congenital indifference to pain mistaken for non-accidental injury. The British Journal of Radiology. 1990;63(748):308-310 [Pubmed citation only]
  30. Zhu YI, Fitzpatrick JE, Weston WL. Congenital curvilinear palpable hyperpigmentation. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2005;53(2):S162-S164 [Pubmed]


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