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Study Finds Certain Birth Defects More Likely Than Others to Put Children at Higher Risk of Maltreatment

11/30/2015
As a group, research show children with disabilities are at greater risk of physical abuse and neglect than others.  A new study to be published in the December 2015 issue of Pediatrics (published online Nov. 30), however, found that maltreatment rates differ considerably among infants and toddlers with three specific birth defects: Down syndrome, cleft lip with or without cleft palate, and spina bifida. The study of roughly 3 million children born in Texas between 2002 and 2009 found that among those with Down syndrome under age 2, the rate of maltreatment was not significantly higher than among unaffected children. In contrast, children with spina bifida had a 58 percent higher rate of maltreatment, while among those with cleft lip -- with or without cleft palate -- the rate was 40 percent higher. The study’s authors said extra support programs are needed for parents of children born with disabilities, particularly medically complex conditions requiring intensive treatment and care during infancy.  
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