Guidelines for medical care of children evaluated for suspected sexual abuse: an update for 2008

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Purpose of reviewChild sexual abuse is a common problem in our society and medical professionals who provide evaluations of children who may have been abused need to be updated as to recent research findings and recommendations for conducting examinations and interpreting results.Recent findingsResearch studies have provided important new information regarding the qualifications of examiners, the recovery of forensic evidence in children, the frequency of abnormal findings in children and adolescents, the healing of genital injuries, and the interpretation of medical findings and sexually transmissible infections with respect to abuse.SummaryThe recommendations for the timing and type of examinations for prepubertal children, in contrast to adolescent sexual assault victims, may need to be changed. Studies showing that partial tears of the hymen, as well as abrasions and contusions, may heal to leave very little or no sign of previous injury emphasize the importance of urgent evaluations. There is a need for standardization of the training of medical professionals who perform child sexual abuse evaluations to ensure continuing competence.

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