More children could be referred to social services when doctors and nurses are given new guidance on spotting signs of mistreatment.
The guide will help GPs and other health workers identify children who are at risk of physical or sexual abuse and those being emotionally harmed.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which published the document, said one child out of 10 suffers some form of abuse from their carers.
Health workers must "listen to" and "observe" children, looking at their appearance and behaviour, any physical signs of abuse and interaction between carer and child, it said.
It wants health workers to ask for an explanation of what happened to the child "in an open and non-judgmental manner" to see if that fits with what is known about them.
A record of the conversation should be made and concerns raised with an expert, such as a community paediatrician, if the health worker thinks there is a possibility of maltreatment.
Information about the situation should be gathered from other agencies and the child should be seen again.
Maltreatment may be excluded as a reason for the child's problem as a result of these checks, but if a health worker suspects a child is being mistreated they should refer the matter to social services.