Nearly 4,600 children were hospitalized in 2006 as a result of serious abuse and 300 children died because of abuse, according to a new report. Researchers estimated 6.2 cases of hospitalization due to abuse per 100,000 children.
However, infants were the most common victims, with 58.2 cases per 100,000 babies, and especially those who were treated under Medicaid, according to Dr. John Leventhal of Yale University in New Haven, Conn. and his team.
They found a significant difference between children on Medicaid and those on other types of insurance with 71.6 percent of abuse cases on Medicaid compared with 36.6 percent of non-abusive injuries and 48.5 percent of cases with other causes for hospitalization.
Yale researchers said that the cost of physical abuse during 2006 was projected to be around $73.8 million which was also significantly higher than the cost of children admission for other causes in the report that was published in the March issue of Pediatrics.
In their report researchers said that the statistics showed serious abuse to be a greater threat to infant safety than sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
"There is a national campaign to prevent SIDS," said study lead author Dr. John Leventhal of Yale University in a statement released Monday. "We need a national campaign related to child abuse where every parent is reminded that kids can get injured."
The report that was based on data from the 2006 Kids' Inpatient Database found that six out of every 100,000 children were hospitalized with injuries ranging from burns to wounds to brain injuries and bone fractures, and that abused children spent more time in the hospital at 7.4 days which was significantly longer than children with other injuries at 3.8 days and 4.5 days for children admitted with other cases.
The Yale study was the second this month to examine the burden of child abuse.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report published in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect, in 2008, 1,740 children died from child abuse and 579,000 children experienced critical but nonfatal child abuse, costing the U.S. $124 billion.
The CDC defined child abuse as physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse and neglect cases, and the health agency highlighted the high costs associated with mistreatment of children and called for change in the United States.
The government agency also estimated that the cost of confirmed fatal child abuse was associated with $1.27 million from “productivity losses,” which was significantly higher than nonfatal child abuse cases.
The CDC also noted that abused children are more likely to have poorer health, social and emotional difficulties and decreased economic productivity.
Rates of aggression, conduct disorder, antisocial behavior, substance abuse, intimate partner violence, teenage pregnancy, anxiety, depression and suicide are higher among abused children than the general population, and over time these negative effects would magnify to generate more costs on the individual, the nation’s health care, education, criminal justice and welfare systems.
The CDC reported that the projected average lifetime cost per victim of nonfatal child mistreatment includes $32,648 in childhood health care costs, $10,530 in adult medical costs, $144,360 in productivity losses, $7,728 in child welfare costs, $6,747 in criminal justice costs, and $7,999 in special education costs.
The estimated lifetime cost per fatal child abuse cases includes $14,100 in medical costs and $1,258,800 in productivity losses.
Researchers from Yale noted that it was likely that the study underestimated the numbers because children who died of physical abuse, but were never admitted to hospital were not included in the study.