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.
- Psychiatric diagnosis
- Traumatic injuries
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health