New Research into Child Bone Data Will Aid Car Seat Safety and Child Abuse Cases

A study into baby bone density could contribute to future car seat safety, as well as aid doctors diagnose accidental or abusive bone injuries inflicted on non-verbal children.

Researchers from University of Sheffield, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and The Children’s Hospital Charity looked at the strength of infant children’s bones in relation to age and weight using computer simulations.

CT scans were used in the research in conjunction with computer programs to create 3D models. The data working in the program was able to test how much force would bend, twist or break the bones of children aged newborn to three years.

The research may help the future design of car seats during safety test simulations before they are sold in shops.

Current simulated crash tests for car seats uses scaled down adult data to get results for children. Adults have a different bone density to young children, meaning the new research will play a vital role in making sure crash simulations are based on the most accurate data.

Dr Amaka Offiah, Reader in Paediatric Musculoskeletal Imaging in the Department of Oncology and Metabolism at the University of Sheffield, and Honorary Consultant Paediatric Radiologist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, said: “Bone fractures are common in childhood and have been estimated to account for 25 per cent of all paediatric injuries. They can broadly be categorised into accidental or inflicted injuries.

“Currently, distinguishing between these can often be extremely difficult. Due to the difficulties in obtaining paediatric bone samples there has been a lack of research to provide evidence-based information on bone strength in young children.

“In addition to the child safety industry-based applications, the findings from our study can be used in future to aid clinical diagnosis. If we can provide a table which shows bone strength by age range for different bones in the body, we can then calculate the force required to break that particular bone. This would help clinicians to use evidence-based information to decide whether an injury is accidental or inflicted, particularly for younger children who aren’t able to articulate how the injury occurred. We are grateful to The Children’s Hospital Charity, who funded the initial work in this area.”

‘Investigating the mechanical response of paediatric bone under bending and torsion using finite element analysis’ by Zainab Altai, Marco Viceconti, Amaka Offiah and Xinshan Li is published in the Journal of Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology.


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