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About 50,000 cases are reported each year in the U.S. This number probably represents under-reporting.
The presence of retinal hemorrhage, cerebral edema, and subdural hematoma—either individually or in any combination—strongly suggests the diagnosis in the absence of other explanations for the trauma. Radiological imaging is used to identify the specific sites of injury.
The prognosis for affected infants and children is extremely guarded. Only about 15% to 20% of them recover without sequelae, such as vision and hearing impairments, seizure disorders, cerebral palsy, and developmental disorders requiring ongoing medical, educational, and behavioral management. See: battered child syndrome; abuse, child