Poverty is a well-recognized risk
factor for child abuse, but a new study “Community Poverty and Child Abuse Fatalities in the United States
” published in the May issue of Pediatrics (published
online on April 24), found higher rates of child abuse fatalities in counties
with higher concentrations of poverty. Researchers examined Centers for Disease
Control Compressed Mortality Files from 1999-2014 and compared this information
against poverty data from the U.S. Census and found that counties with the
highest poverty concentrations had more than three times the rate of child
abuse fatalities compared to counties with the lowest poverty concentration.
During the 15 years covered by the study, 11,149 children ages 4 and younger
died from abuse in the United States, and the national child abuse fatality
rate for the study period was 3.5 deaths per 100,000 children in that age
group. The study found that child abuse fatality rates increased with poverty
rates, ranging from 1.3 deaths per 100,000 children in counties with under 5
percent poverty concentrations to the highest risk of fatal abuse, infants in
counties with poverty concentrations of at least 20 percent with a fatality
rate of 9.6 deaths per 100,000. Researchers concluded that community leaders,
child advocates, public health officials, and health care professionals must
consider community poverty when developing efforts to prevent child abuse
deaths, but more research is needed to understand the reasons why this
association exists between poverty and child safety.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 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
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