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Children Hospitalized at Alarming Rate Due to Abuse: Study

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More than 4,500 children in the United States were hospitalized and 300 children died from their injuries in one year due to child abuse, according to a new report in the journal Pediatrics.

Dr. John Leventhal, professor of pediatrics at Yale University, along with his team, used the 2006 Kids Inpatient Database (KID) to count the number of child abuse cases among children younger than 18, that led to hospitalization.

The findings were troubling — 4,569 children were hospitalized in the U.S. in 2006 due to serious abuse and 300 of these children died. Children in their fist year of life were at highest risk of being hospitalized, making up 58.2 per 100,000 children in this age group.

“These numbers are higher than the rate of sudden infant death syndrome (about 50, per 100,000 births), which is alarming,” said Leventhal. He also found children insured by Medicaid had rates of serious abuse that was six times higher than those not on medicaid.

“This speaks to the importance of poverty as a risk factor for serious abuse,” he said.

National costs for child abuse cases that led to hospitalizations were $73.8 million. “These data should be useful in examining trends over time and in studying the effects of large-scale prevention programs,” he added.

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