Child Protection Evidence - Bites

Child Protection Evidence is a resource available for clinicians across the UK and internationally to inform clinical practice, child protection procedures and professional and expert opinion in the legal system. This systematic review evaluates the literature on abusive and non-abusive bites.

About the review

This systematic review evaluates the scientific literature on bites published until June 2014.

It aims to answer the following clinical question:

  • Is this an abusive bite?

The review attempts to answer this question by exploring the epidemiology of childhood bites in the literature and identifying the specific features which suggest that a skin lesion on a child is a bite.

The implications for practice and research, and other useful references are included in the review.

Key findings

  • A human bite on a child should be suspected if there is any 2-5cm oval/circular injury, with a circumscribed annular border, with or without central ecchymosis.
  • Any suspicious lesion must have photographs taken with a right-angled measuring device and these need to be taken in each plane if the injury is on a curved surface.
  • Early referral of suspicious injuries to forensic dentists is mandatory to enable possible identification of a specific perpetrator.

Disclaimer: This 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

Original reviews and content © Cardiff University, funded by NSPCC
Published by RCPCH July 2017

While the format of each review has been revised to fit the style of the College and amalgamated into a comprehensive document, the content remains unchanged until reviewed and new evidence is identified and added to the evidence-base. Updated content will be indicated on individual review pages.