In our previous article we introduced the subject of brittle bone disease, and invited you to consider what this discovery would be like for a parent who is then accused of child abuse. It has happened again and again, perfectly innocent parents who love their children very much, and who are accused of hurting them simply because doctors don’t see any other explanation for why the child has so many broken bones.
Osteogenesis imperfecta isn’t the same for everyone who suffers from this disease. For some people the symptoms are quite mild and only result in a few broken bones during their lifetime. While for others, they are in constant danger of injury, and are so easily injured that it doesn’t take more than a the simplest of actions to cause severe injury.
According to WebMD, the symptoms of brittle bone disease are actually many and varied, but not everyone has the same symptoms.
Here are the most common ones:
- Broken bones (fractures)
- Bleeding and easy bruising (frequent nosebleeds or heavy bleeding after an injury)
- Bowing of the legs
- Breathing problems
- Brittle, discolored teeth
- Curved spine (called scoliosis) and other bone deformities
- Easily injured skin
- Frequent exhaustion
- Loose joints
- Short height
- Weak muscles and tissues
Brittle bone disease can be diagnosed by a doctor who does a complete physical exam and a considers the medical history of the patient. This usually also includes blood and urine tests to rule out other possible causes, like rickets. In the case of a baby, there is less information available about their medical history and obviously they cannot discuss their symptoms or pain level with the doctor. However genetic testing is a quick and efficient method of determining whether or not an infant suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta.
In most cases, when medical professionals encounter a baby or a child with multiple broken bones, the first thing they think is not brittle bone disease. Sadly, rather than ruling out other options first before making groundless accusations, they simply call the police and CPS, and hand the case off. Once CPS steps in, testing for brittle bone disease becomes something parents have to fight for, instead of a logical next step.
The difficulty here is that, in order to determine what caused the unexplained injuries, police and CPS workers conduct multiple interviews with parents. Confused and desperately wanting to be helpful, parents will try to come up with any possible explanation for how their child was harmed. While they are only trying to help, they actually cause more damage, because every suggestion they provide will be taken by CPS and used against them as a “confession of abuse” in court.
For this reason, we cannot stress enough the importance of not talking to any CPS workers unless you have first consulted with your defense attorney. The same is true of police. A parent should never talk to the police about injuries to their child without counsel present. There is only one reason that police would show up and want to ask questions about your child’s injuries – they suspect abuse and are investigating the possibilities of arresting you.
It’s often the case that there are both police and CPS investigations going on at the same time. Because our firm also provides criminal defense, we can walk you through both systems at the same time. We can also help you to understand how a child abuse / neglect case and a criminal prosecution affect each other. If you or a loved one have been accused of child abuse, call us at 866 766 5245 immediately. We are here to help.