Nurses and other health professionals are being offered new advice on recognising the signs of deliberate head and spinal injuries in children.
The NSPCC has published a leaflet for public sector workers that come into contact with children, including A&E and paediatric nursing staff.
The charity said that at least three infants per week were admitted to hospital in England due to deliberate head injuries. Up to 45% of those who survive head or spinal injuries experience life-long damage, including cerebral palsy and visual problems.
The guide on head and spinal injuries is the fifth in a series on inflicted injuries, developed jointly with the Welsh Child Protection Systematic Review Group at Cardiff University.
Dr Alison Kemp, a paediatrician and head of the review group, said: ‘Signs like swelling of the lower back or bruising to the head or neck are visible injuries. In many case, however, the spinal or head injury may not be immediately apparent so doctors should also look out for less obvious symptoms.
‘These include irritability, poor feeding or excessive crying or impaired neurological function,’ she said.