Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More children are victims of abuse than of SIDS, study finds

As the state's major newspapers and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services battle over how public records pertaining to child abuse and neglect should be handled, children continue to be victims across the country. A study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics has found child abuse affects more babies in the U.S. than SIDS. (Photo by Getty Images)

The rate of hospital admissions for SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, is 50 per 100,000 for children under the age of 1. In the same age bracket, 58.2 per 100,000 babies are getting hurt as a result of abuse, reports Bonnie Rochman for Time's Healthland.

"These kids are physically vulnerable because they're small," said Dr. John M. Levanthal, leader author of the study and professor of pediatrics at Yale Medical School. "They are challenging for some parents to take care of because they cry, it's hard to understand what they want and parents can get frustrated, exhausted and angry."

Indeed, abuse most often stems from parents. Previous research shows men, including fathers, stepfathers and boyfriends, are the "largest single group of perpetrators," Rochman reports.

Research conducted at Yale found that in 2006 4,569 children under the age of 18 were brought to the hospital as a result of abuse, 300 of whom died. The resulting death rate of 6 percent was "substantially higher than for children who were admitted for other kinds of injuries or medical or surgical problems," Rochman reports.

The most common injuries included abusive head trauma, fractures, burns, abdominal injuries and bruises. Those hospitalizations cost about $73.8 million and lasted twice as long as children who suffered other kinds of injuries.

Children living in poverty were the victims of abuse much more often, getting hit at six times the rate of children not on Medicaid.

A report showed 18 Kentucky children died from child abuse or neglect last year, down from 33 in 2009, but those numbers have since come into question. A survey in Kentucky and three other states showed child abuse rates have risen significantly since the economy went into recession — from 8.9 per 100,000 children from 2004 to December 2007 to 14.7 per 100,000 during 2008 and 2009. (Read more)

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