Monday, September 19, 2011

Study: In Times of Recession, Abusive Head Trauma Increases

The impacts of a recession are profound.

In a study appearing today in Pediatrics, Dr. Rachel Berger reports on the rise in the number of cases during the recent recession, which suggests that the rising tide of economic stress is causing a rise in the number of cases of Abusive Head Trauma/Shaken Baby Syndrome. Link to article

The story is receiving a lot of media attention, so it would be a good time to contact your elected officials and let them know that there are opportunities to help parents keep their children safe.


As the coverage points out, if the rate reported in the study applies nationwide, it's now more likely that a child will be the victim of abuse head injury than pediatric diabetes.

CBS News includes a couple of tips from Dr. Peter Sherman at Montefiore Medical Center.

Sherman noted that most children studied were publicly insured even before the recession, suggesting that their families were already struggling financially.

Still, the recession affected many lower-income families, and Sherman said the study highlights "a very important issue."

He said pediatricians could help with prevention by asking families about difficulties paying for food or shelter and referring those in need to social service agencies. Just asking parents about stress and acknowledging their struggles can sometimes help, he said.

Most parents who abuse young children aren't "ill-intentioned," he said. "Most of it is kind of just snapping...maybe being sleep-deprived and just losing it. It's something that can happen to anyone."

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