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RETRACTED ARTICLE: Confessed versus denied inflicted head injuries in infants: similarities and differences

This article was retracted on 09 March 2023

This article has been updated


Background and purpose

Abusive head injuries (AHI), and in particular shaken baby syndrome (SBS), are common causes of mortality and morbidity in infants. Although SBS is a well-established entity, based on clinical experience and experimental data, and confirmed by the perpetrators’ confessions, a growing number of publications challenge the diagnostic criteria, and even the validity of the perpetrators’ confession. We decided to study AHI in infants and compare cases with and without confession.

Material and methods

We collected prospectively all cases of infantile traumatic head injuries hospitalized in our institution between 2001 and 2021. From this database, we selected victims of AHI, comparing cases for which the perpetrator confessed during police inquiry (“confession” group) versus cases without confession (“denial” group).


We studied 350 cases of AHI in infants; 137 of these (39.1%) were confessed. We found no statistically significant difference between the two groups regarding the child’s previous history, as well as the personality and previous history of the caretakers. However, the “confession” group showed significantly more severe clinical presentation, cerebral lesions, retinal hemorrhages, and a more pejorative outcome.


We conclude that the diagnosis of AHI was confirmed by the confession in a large number of cases, indicating that the diagnostic criteria of AHI are robust. We also found that denial, although possibly sincere, was likely ill-founded, and that the perpetrators’ decision to confess or deny was markedly influenced by the severity of the inflicted lesions.

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Data availability

Data and material are stored and will be made available upon request.

Change history


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Correspondence to Matthieu Vinchon.

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Vinchon, M., Karnoub, MA., Noulé, N. et al. RETRACTED ARTICLE: Confessed versus denied inflicted head injuries in infants: similarities and differences. Childs Nerv Syst 38, 147–152 (2022).

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