Several measures are used in the United States to track the national occurrence of child abuse, but none specifically identifies the severity of the abuse or whether the child was hospitalized as a result. In a new study, “Using U.S. Data to Estimate the Incidence of Serious Physical Abuse in Children,” in the March 2012 Pediatrics (published online Feb. 6), researchers used the 2006 Kids’ Inpatient Database to estimate the incidence of hospitalizations due to serious physical abuse among children younger than 18 years.
They found 4,569 children were hospitalized due to serious abuse in 2006; 300 of these children died. The incidence was highest for children during the first year of life, at 58.2 per 100,000 children in this age group. The study authors note this is higher than the rate of sudden infant death syndrome (about 50 per 100,000 births). Children covered by Medicaid had rates of serious abuse about six times higher than those not on Medicaid, which speaks to the importance of poverty as a risk factor for serious abuse, according to the study authors. The estimated national cost for the hospitalizations due to serious abusive injuries was $73.8 million. Study authors conclude the data should be useful in examining trends over time and in studying the effects of large-scale prevention programs.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000
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.