Study leader Dr. John M. Leventhal, a professor of pediatrics and medical director of the Child Abuse and Child Abuse Prevention Programs at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital, and colleagues used the 2006 Kids' Inpatient Database to estimate the incidence of hospitalizations due to serious physical abuse.
In 2006, 4,569 U.S. children were hospitalized due to serious abuse and 300 children died. Children in their first year of life were at highest risk of being hospitalized -- 58.2 per 100,000 children.
"These numbers are higher than the rate of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death syndrome) at about 50 per 100,000 births, which is alarming," Leventhal said in a statement. "Children covered by Medicaid had rates of serious abuse about six times higher than those not on Medicaid. This speaks to the importance of poverty as a risk factor for serious abuse."
Serious abuse was defined as any child who was admitted to the hospital with an injury that was coded as abuse but did not include children admitted with suspicious injuries who were eventually diagnosed as having non-abusive injuries.
The findings are scheduled to be published in the March issue of Pediatrics.