Lurie Children’s Physician Starts Latin American Movement to Raise Child Abuse Awareness

As a young child growing up in Mexico, Lurie Children’s specialist, Norell Rosado, MD, had his sights on medical school and working in the fast-paced intensive care units or the ER. But it wasn’t until his residency in 1997 at Sinai Children’s Hospital in Chicago that his career took a different path.

Dr. Rosado worked one-on-one with his mentor, a pediatrician, who saw child abuse cases. She encouraged him to pursue a rotation at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital (then Children’s Memorial Hospital) so he could work with the director of Child Abuse Pediatrics. After one week into his rotation, Dr. Rosado was certain he wanted to work in pediatric child abuse. Twenty years later, this nationally-recognized expert in child abuse is now educating other pediatricians in his birth country as well as Costa Rica and Cuba.

What sparks Dr. Rosado’s interests?

As an attending physician in Child Abuse Pediatrics at Lurie Children’s, Dr. Rosado enjoys approaching each case from a multi-team approach.

“We collaborate with numerous disciplines on a daily basis, including law enforcement, social work and child protection services,” said Dr. Rosado who also is an assistant professor of Pediatrics-Child Abuse, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“I’m able to see the case through my lens, and when another specialty and discipline comes in, they are able to bring a fresh perspective.”

Preventing Child Abuse in Latin America

In 2013, Dr. Rosado was asked to start a child abuse conference in Costa Rica and serve as one of the speakers. He also has visited Cuba to learn about child protection in this country by meeting with front-line physicians, directors of hospitals and heads of health programs.

In Mexico and Costa Rica, he says there are physicians who treat child abuse, but it is not a pediatric sub-specialty like in the U.S. nor are they mandated to report suspected abuse.

“We need to equip Latin American countries to advocate for mandates to report child maltreatment,” explains Dr. Rosado.

In Costa Rica, Dr. Rosado offers general education on child abuse every other year, which includes:

  • Recognizing abusive injuries, including burns and bruises
  • Differentiating between abusive vs. accidental injuries
  • Discussing mimics of abuse
  • Handling cases of physical and sexual abuse

Some countries like Cuba simply do not have the money or resources to offer appropriate medical care to workup cases of suspected child abuse.

“Any time we suspect physical abuse in the United States in a child under 24-months, both the American Academy of Pediatrics and American College of Radiology mandate that you do a skeletal survey (an x-ray of every bone of the body) to rule out skeletal injuries, such as bone fractures. In Cuba, they don’t have the resources to do this,” he explains.

Dr. Rosado believes he has started a movement across Latin America through the power of enhanced communication. Government officials and health services are implementing stricter policies help with the early recognition of child abuse before it escalates to more severe abuse. Other specialties, such as nursing and psychiatry, have also initiated child abuse awareness, due to Dr. Rosado’s efforts.

Dr. Rosado does not have plans to slow down any time soon; he wants to expand his efforts into other Latin American countries, continue educating himself about child abuse and is in the midst of publishing a number of research studies.

“No matter if I’m helping children here in Chicago or in Latin America, I will do all that I can because that’s what they deserve. Children deserve to live in a violent-free environment,” says Dr. Rosado.

If you believe a child is a victim of child abuse, please do not hesitate to report. 

Learn more about our Division of Child Abuse Pediatrics and Protective Services

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