National burden of pediatric abusive injuries: patterns vary by age

Carlos Theodore Huerta, Eduardo A. Perez, Hallie Quiroz, Kirby Quinn, Chad M. Thorson, Anthony R. Hogan, Ann Christina Brady, Juan E. Sola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Child abuse is often unrecognized by healthcare practitioners. This study sought to characterize pediatric abuse injury patterns and associated mortality rates in a nationwide cohort. Methods: The Kids’ Inpatient Database (1997–2012) was queried for patients < 18 years old with a diagnosis of child abuse (utilizing ICD-9 codes for abusive head trauma [AHT], neglect, physical, emotional, sexual, and other abuse). Demographic factors, mortality, and injury patterns were compared with demographic factors using standard statistical tests. Results: > 39,000 children were hospitalized for abuse from 1997 to 2012. The majority were Caucasian (36%), male (51%) and < 4 years old (70%). Most sustained physical abuse (53%), followed by AHT (14%), sexual (9%) and emotional abuse (2%). Multiple injuries were sustained by 44% of patients. Mortality was 4% (n = 1476). Burns (2%) and intrathoracic (2%) injuries had the highest mortality compared to other injuries (21% and 19%, respectively; both P < 0.001). Emotional abuse (5%) and neglect (1%) were highest in those ≥ 13 years old (both P = 0.001). Conclusion: Physical injuries are less common in adolescents (13–18 years) hospitalized for abuse. However, they are more likely to report emotional abuse and neglect, which has not been compared in previous studies. Intrathoracic injuries and AHT are associated with significant mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-520
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Surgery International
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Abuse patterns
  • Children
  • Outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery


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