U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Radiographic Database for Estimating Biological Parameters in Modern Subadults

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2013
59 pages
This project established a database of digital radiographs and demographic data from modern American "subadults" (fetuses, infants, and children), so as to facilitate estimating age at death.
The radiographic collection has potential for research on age, sex, and ancestry estimation methods, trauma analysis, and bone healing rates. The database is expected to grow. Four Master's students have used the radiographic scans in their thesis work; their results confirm and clarify that children today are taller for a given age and are maturing faster skeletally than the currently used forensic and clinical standards suggest. Current techniques in forensic anthropology for estimating age at death of subadults are of questionable validity due to a lack of data from modern and diverse groups and a lack of optimal statistical methods. Age estimation in subadults has been based on data from clinical studies undertaken over 80 years ago in order to determine whether children of known age showed normal growth. Skeletal collections of subadults are rare, and other sources for subadult data are needed. Radiographs obtained from medical examiner's and coroner's offices (MECOs) provide anthropologists with a means of assembling large amounts of data from modern subadults with known age, sex, ancestry, date of birth, and other demographic information. The radiographic database fills a gap for data from subadults, data that are not contained in the well-known Forensic Data Bank at the University of Tennessee. A database of digital radiographs and demographic data from modern American subadults is needed to provide the best means of forensic age estimation in subadults. During this project, it was recognized that additional data sources were required, since MECOs have few cases that involve children between 5 and 14 years old. Clinical radiographs for these ages were obtained from two locations. 8 tables, 6 figures, and 58 references

Date Published: June 1, 2013