To evaluate the effect of perpetrator gender on victim presentation and outcomes, and perpetrator legal outcomes for abusive head trauma (AHT).
We performed a retrospective chart review of AHT cases from 1998 to 2008. Patient clinical data and information regarding perpetrator legal outcome was obtained. Relationship of brain injury and retinal hemorrhages (RHs) and differences in categorical variables of perpetrator gender were compared by using Fisher's exact test. Differences in continuous variables between perpetrator gender were compared by using the Mann-Whitney Test.
There were 34 cases of AHT with identified perpetrators, 17 of each gender. Mean age of the victims was 9.4 months (SD: 7.8). Thirty-two (94%) had intracranial hemorrhages, 14 (41%) had both primary and secondary brain injury, 28 (82%) had RHs, and 6 (18%) died. The severity of RH was related to the severity of brain injuries (P = .01). The median age for female perpetrators (34 years) was higher than that for males (27 years; P = .001). Six categorical variables were associated with male perpetrator gender: acute presenting symptoms of cardiopulmonary or respiratory arrest (P = .025), worse clinical outcome (P = .012), neurosurgical intervention (P = .037), death (P = .018), perpetrator confession (P = .0001), and conviction (P = .005).
There were significant perpetrator gender differences of AHT in children. Male perpetrators were younger and more likely to confess and be convicted. Victims of male perpetrators had more serious acute presentations and neurosurgical intervention and suffered worse clinical outcomes.