Study: Serious Child Abuse More Prevalent Than SIDS


by Christina Elston, L.A. Parent

More than 4,500 kids in the United States were hospitalized due to child abuse in 2006, andchild abuse 300 of them died of their injuries, according to new data released by Yale School of Medicine researchers.

They used data from the government-sponsored 2006 Kids’ Inpatient Database to estimate how many children under age 18 were hospitalized due to serious physical abuse.

The researchers counted only children who had been admitted to the hospital with an injury that was coded as abuse. They did not count those with suspicious injuries that were eventually determined not to result from abuse. Among their findings:

• 4,569 children were hospitalized due to serious abuse in 2006;

• 300 of these children died as a result of their injuries;

• The 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; and

• 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.

Authors of the study are noting 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. They note that their data should be useful in shaping large-scale programs to prevent child abuse.

The study is published in the March 2012 issue of Pediatrics.

Christina Elston is a contributing health editor for

Posted Feb 2012