Increase in Child Abuse Injuries Seen in Recent Years

Serious injuries due to abuse up 4.9 percent in children under 18; 10.9 percent in those under 1

MONDAY, Oct. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Over a period of 12 years, from 1997 to 2009, the incidence of serious injuries due to physical abuse increased in children younger than 18 and in infants younger than 1, according to a study published online Oct. 1 in Pediatrics.

To examine the changes in the incidence of serious injuries due to physical abuse in hospitalized children, John M. Leventhal, M.D., and Julie R. Gaither, R.N., M.P.H., from the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., conducted a study using the Kids' Inpatient Database, a sample of hospital discharges in the United States from 1997 to 2009.

The researchers found that the incidence of serious injuries due to physical abuse increased by 4.9 percent, from 6.1 per 100,000 children younger than 18 in 1997 to 6.4 in 2009. The incidence of serious injuries due to physical abuse in infants under the age of 1 year increased by 10.9 percent over the same time period.

"In summary, our study shows that in the United States over a 12-year period (1997 to 2009), there was a slight increase in the incidence of children hospitalized with serious injuries due to physical abuse," the authors write. "These results, which are in sharp contrast to the marked decrease in substantiated cases of physical abuse based on data from child protective services, highlight the challenge of using a single source of data to track a complex problem such as child physical abuse."

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