Medics key to spotting signs of child abuse, Abu Dhabi conference hears

Healthcare professionals told of need to provide a clear diagnosis to safeguard young lives

Abu Dhabi, United Arabe Emirates-Dr. Leslie Lehmann speaking  at the 14th SEHA International Pediatric Conference at Rosewood Hotel.  Leslie Pableo for The National for Nick Webster's story

The crucial need to spot the telltale signs of child abuse was high on the agenda as a global medical conference got under way in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Experts said doctors and nurses were well placed to uncover any early child abuse indicators, but must be clear in their diagnosis as bruising is common and can often indicate serious illnesses such as leukaemia.

The vital topic was put under the microscope during the opening sessions of the 14th Seha International Paediatric Conference at the Rosewood hotel on Al Maryah Island.

Doctors and other healthcare professionals will assess the latest developments in child healthcare during the three-day conference.

“It can be the most amazing family in the world, but abuse in the home can be happening and doctors can quickly determine that with a proper physical assessment,” said Dr Leslie Lehman, clinical director of paediatric stem cell transplants at Boston Children’s Hospital in the US.

“A detailed history and physical exam of a child can determine the cause of bruising and rule out abuse.

“Most bruises in childhood are result of minor environmental interactions.

“If doctors are still unsure of the cause of bruising, a paediatric haematologist should be consulted.”

Researchers also discussed breakthroughs in how to spot early signs of sepsis, paediatric hypertension, and bone and joint infections.

Delegates from some of the leading international care facilities attended the event to share their most recent findings and research.

They included experts from the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, National Children’s Hospital in Washington and London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, the UAE’s largest healthcare network, is hosting the 14th edition of a conference that has become one of the most prominent in the field, providing significant advantages to professionals who serve children in the UAE and the wider region.

“Seha’s priority is to offer children with services and treatment methods that match, if not exceed, the highest international standards,” said Dr Elsadeg Mohamed Sharif, a consultant paediatrician at Al Ain Hospital.

“It is dedicated to utilising the available technology and expertise worldwide to deliver on that promise.”