John Libbey Eurotext

Médecine et Santé Tropicales


Child abuse: an underestimated health problem? A case report from Cameroon Volume 26, issue 2, Avril-Mai-Juin 2016


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1 Faculté de médecine et des sciences biomédicales, Université de Yaoundé I, BP: 1364, Yaoundé, Cameroun
2 Hôpital gynéco-obstétrique et pédiatrique de Yaoundé, Cameroun
3 Centre Mère et enfant de la fondation Chantal Biya, Yaoundé, Cameroun
4 Hôpital de District de Efoulan, Yaoundé, Cameroun
5 Institut supérieur de technologie médicale, Yaoundé, Cameroun
6 Centre hospitalier universitaire de Yaoundé, Yaoundé, Cameroun
7 Faculté de médecine et des sciences pharmaceutiques, Université de Douala, Cameroun
* Correspondance
  • Key words: abuse, child, lesions, ignorance, imagery, Cameroon
  • DOI : 10.1684/mst.2016.0556
  • Page(s) : 216-20
  • Published in: 2016

Physical abuse of children can be of varying nature. Children can be shaken, beaten, burnt, or cut by their parents or guardians. The incidence of trauma inflicted on children is underestimated in many countries, probably because clinical signs are misjudged, as this case report shows. This three-year-old boy was seen in several health facilities of Yaounde, Cameroon. He was treated erroneously for severe malaria and then for meningitis because he presented with neurologic signs, before the diagnosis of child abuse was made. This was confirmed after an imaging work-up revealed fractures of the skull and the leg. The diagnosis was therefore delayed by at least six weeks from the date of the first consultation. This case report demonstrates that child abuse is not well known in our environment, and it is therefore crucial to train those who provide health care to children to recognize it.