According to a multi-center study led by Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, the number of cases of abusive head trauma, formerly known as "shaken baby syndrome," increased signficantly since the beginning of the recession.
Lead researcher, Dr. Rachel Berger, a child abuse specialist and researcher at Children’s Hospital’s Child Advocacy Center, says they studied 512 patients with abusive head trauma ranging in age from 9 days to 6 years. Dr. Berger says
the number of cases of abusive head trauma rose from six per month before Dec. 1, 2007, to 9.3 per month after that date.
"it coincided with the economic recession, and that it’s not a phenomenon isolated to our region but happening on a much more widespread level. This suggests we may need to dramatically increase our child abuse prevention efforts now and in future times of economic hardship.”
Of the children studied, 63 percent had injuries severe enough that they had to be admitted to intensive care units, and 16 percent died. Dr. Berger said that in 2008, more patients at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh died from abusive head trauma than from non-inflicted brain injury.
In addition to Pittsburgh, the patients were treated at pediatric hospitals in Cincinnati, Columbus and Seattle. Results of the study are being presented by Dr. Berger today at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia.