WEDNESDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- The recession did not have much impact on rates of child maltreatment in the United States, the results of a new study suggest.

"Many of us worried about possible large increases in 2009 due to worsening economic conditions. But so far the impact of the recession on child maltreatment does not appear too dire," David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, said in a university news release.

Finkelhor and his colleagues analyzed federal data and found a 5 percent decline in sexual abuse between 2008 and 2009, a 3 percent increase in the number of child maltreatment-related deaths, and no change in rates for physical abuse and neglect.

"It was particularly encouraging that neglect did not increase," he explained, because it is considered to be the form of maltreatment most closely tied to economic conditions.

While the 3 percent rise in maltreatment-related deaths is cause for concern, it was confined almost exclusively to one geographic region: There was an increase of 50 deaths in Texas, the investigators found.

The 5 percent decline in sexual abuse is a continuation of a trend dating back to 1992. Since then, cases of child sexual abuse in the United States have fallen by 61 percent to a new low of 65,700.

Finkelhor believes that established prevention and intervention programs helped prevent a large increase in child maltreatment during the recession.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about child abuse.