Studies show that a one in four children will experience
abuse, neglect and maltreatment, and that about 1,700 children die every year
as a result. In a new clinical report, “Ongoing Pediatric Health Care for the Child Who Has Been Maltreated,” in the
April 2019 Pediatrics (published online March 18), the American Academy
of Pediatrics states that children who have been maltreated need more frequent
medical evaluation by their primary care clinician and deserve additional care
Children who are maltreated face many burdens, including
injuries and growth delays due to head trauma, being more likely to have lower
test and IQ scores, higher rates of obesity and eating disorders, and a higher
likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors, such as smoking, drug use, regular
alcohol consumption, and binge drinking.
“Pediatricians are many
times the only person in the lives of children who are victims of abuse and
neglect who can adequately manage the physical, developmental, and emotional
consequences and provide support and direction to the families of these children,”
said Emalee G. Flaherty, MD, FAAP, the lead author of the report and co-chair
of the AAP Council on Child Abuse and Neglect. “This report recognizes
that even when children are removed from abusive situations, and placed in
foster care, many of them will return to their families with bad behaviors and
new trauma from those placements.”
The AAP recommends pediatricians:
Should advocate for safe
communities and environments, and programs that strengthen economic
supports for families and mitigate the negative effects of toxic stress.
Offer additional care—3
visits in 3 months and every 6 months after the maltreatment occurred and
returning home from foster care—understanding that 60 percent of cases
Coordinate with schools
and community programs to help develop of supportive relationships for
abused kids, among other guidelines.
The AAP calls for more research
into strategies that will help reduce violence in all communities.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds