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Childhood: More Abuse Seen in Areas of Fiscal Stress

Ohanian Comment: I wonder if the "no excuses" people read such studies--or think about all the children who suffer their parents' economic woes--but without requiring hospitalization. The article ends with observation that there's no clear solution to this problem. For starters, we could try making sure everyone has a living wage, affordable housing, and health care.This is what other industrialized nations do.

By Nicholas Bakalar

The rate at which abused children are admitted to hospitals has risen over the past decade, a study says, and the increase may be linked to the housing mortgage crisis.

From 2000 through 2009, rates of hospitalization for children suffering physical abuse increased by an average of 0.79 percent per year, the study reported. Admissions of children for traumatic brain injury rose by 3.1 percent per year. At the same time, all-cause injury rates among children declined by 0.8 percent per year.

The study, published online last week in the journal Pediatrics, looked at the records of children admitted to 38 hospitals, then linked the data to unemployment rates and to mortgage delinquency and foreclosure statistics in the surrounding metropolitan areas.

For each 1 percent increase in the 90-day mortgage delinquency rate within a metropolitan area, the researchers found a 3.09 percent increase in hospital admission rates for child abuse and a 4.8 percent increase in admissions for high-risk brain injury among children. There was a similar correlation with foreclosure rates.

"The study does not provide a clear answer of how to solve the problem," said the lead author, Dr. Joanne N. Wood, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Children̢۪s Hospital of Philadelphia. But, she continued, "there is a role for using economic indicators to identify communities undergoing economic stress so that we can better target interventions."

— Nicholas Bakalar
New York Times





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