Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Serious Child Abuse May Be on Rise

The national incidence of child abuse in general may be on the decline, but a recent study suggests serious child abuse incidents are rising. Although U.S. Child Protective Services data showed a 55 percent decrease in the national incidence of substantiated physical abuse from 1992 to 2009, no study has tracked the occurrence of serious injuries due to physical abuse, said John Leventhal M.D., and Julie Gaither, R.N., M.P.H., of Yale School of Medicine in the online October 1 Pediatrics.

The pair recently examined the Kids’ Inpatient Database, a sample of discharges from U.S. hospitals prepared every three years from 1997 to 2009 that includes ICD-9-CM diagnosis and external cause of injury codes. They found that cases of serious physical abuse of children younger than age 18 increased 4.9 percent. The incidence for children younger than age 1 increased 10.9 percent.

Another study published in Pediatrics found that abusive head trauma cases have increased significantly during the economic recession, possibly indicating a larger number of children with milder brain injuries who could present with psychiatric symptoms following a time of economic stress. Read more about that finding in Psychiatric News here.

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