MONDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Close to 4,600 kids in the
United States were hospitalized as a result of child abuse in one
recent year, and 300 of them died, a new study shows.
Researchers from Yale University analyzed information from the
2006 Kids' Inpatient Database to determine the rate of
hospitalizations due to serious physical abuse among children under
the age of 18.
Infants aged 1 year or younger were at highest risk for child
abuse-related hospitalization. The rate of hospitalization for
1-year-olds was about 58 per 100,000 children, a rate that is
higher than that of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The hospitalization numbers are likely just "the tip of the
iceberg," because many abused children don't end up in hospitals,
said Karel Amaranth, executive director of the Butler Child
Advocacy Center at The Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New
Poverty appears to be another risk factor for child abuse.
Children covered by Medicaid, the U.S. health program for
low-income families, were about six times more likely to be victims
of serious abuse as children who were not on Medicaid.
The new findings appear online and in the March issue of
Things may have gotten even worse since 2006.
Research suggests that these rates may be even higher since the
economy began to falter. One study found that the rate of abusive
head trauma rose from about nine per 100,000 children to nearly 15
per 100,000 children from 2004 to 2009, which coincides with the
onset of the recession and massive job losses. That study appeared
in the October 2011 issue of
Dr. Walter Lambert, an associate professor of pediatrics and
medical director of University of Miami Child Protection Team, is
not surprised by the findings.
"There is absolutely no doubt that since the economy started getting worse, the number of reports to child abuse hotlines has gone up and the severity injuries has increased as has the number of kids who end up in the hospital due to child abuse," Lambert said. Earlier identification of at-risk families may help stem some of the violence, he said.
The onus is on everyone in society to help buck this disturbing
trend, Amaranth said. "Speak up in a very loud and clear voice
because a lot of these children don't have the voice to speak for
themselves," she said. "If you feel that a child is being harmed in
some way, you have to call it in." Every state has a child abuse
Visit Childhelp to learn how to
and prevent child abuse.
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