Identifying Populations at Risk for Child Abuse: A Nationwide Analysis

Hallie J. Quiroz, Joshua Parreco, Lavanya Easwaran, Brent Willobee, Anthony Ferrantella, Rishi Rattan, Chad M. Thorson, Juan E. Sola, Eduardo A. Perez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose: Child abuse is a national, often hidden, epidemic. The study objective was to determine at-risk populations that have been previously hospitalized prior to their admission for child abuse. Methods: The Nationwide Readmissions Database (NRD) was queried for all children hospitalized for abuse. Outcomes were previous admissions and diagnoses. χ2 analysis was used; significance equals p < 0.05. Results: 31,153 children were hospitalized for abuse (half owing to physical abuse) during the study period. 11% (n = 3487) of these children had previous admissions (one in three to a different hospital), while 3% (n = 1069) had multiple hospitalizations. 60% of prior admissions had chronic conditions, and 12% had traumatic injuries. Children with chronic conditions were more likely to have sexual abuse (89% vs. 57%, p < 0. 001) and emotional abuse (75% vs. 60%, p < 0. 01). 25% of chronic diagnoses were psychiatric, who were also more likely to have sexual and emotional abuse (47% vs. 5.5% and 10% vs. 1%, all p < 0. 001). Conclusion: This study uncovers a hidden population of children with past admissions for chronic conditions, especially psychiatric diagnoses that are significantly associated with certain types of abuse. Improved measures to accurately identify at-risk children must be developed to prevent future childhood abuse and trauma. Level of evidence: Level III. Type of study: Retrospective comparative study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-139
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Abuse
  • Psychiatric diagnosis
  • Traumatic injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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