More than 4,500 children were hospitalized due to child abuse in 2006, and 300 of them died of their injuries, according to data released today by Yale School of Medicine researchers. They used data from the 2006 Kids’ Inpatient Database – a government database sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality – to estimate how many children under 18 were hospitalized due to serious physical abuse.
The researchers counted only children admitted to the hospital with an injury that was coded as abuse. They did not count those with suspicious injuries who that were eventually determined not to result from abuse. Their findings include:
• 4,569 children in the U.S. were hospitalized due to serious abuse in 2006
• 300 of these children died as a result of their injuries
• Estimated cost for these hospitalizations was $73.8 million
• Children covered by Medicaid, the government program that aids low-income families with healthcare costs, were six times more likely to suffer serious abuse than other children
• Children in their first year of life were at highest risk of being hospitalized, with more than 58 of every 100,000 children this age hospitalized due to abuse
Study authors noted that the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in the U.S. is around 50 per 100,000 births, making babies more likely to be hospitalized due to child abuse than to succumb to a condition that has resulted in an aggressive prevention campaign from health experts. They note their data should be useful in shaping large-scale programs to prevent child abuse.
The study was published online Feb. 6, and in the March 2012 issue of Pediatrics.