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are mine. - Peter Gerlach, MSW
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About one of every 43 U.S. infants
is physically abused or neglected annually, and those babies are
especially at risk in the first week of their lives, U.S. health officials
said on Thursday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention said in its first report on maltreatment of babies up to age
1 that 91,278 of them were physically abused or neglected in 2006.
Other new government figures showed that 499 babies up to age 1 were killed
in maltreatment cases in 2006.
About a third of the maltreated
infants -- 29,881 -- were abused or neglected before they were 1 week old,
mostly during their first four days, the CDC said. Many of those cases may
be linked to maternal drug use, the CDC said.
Physical abuse included beating, kicking, biting, burning and
shaking, and neglect included abandonment, maternal drug use or
failing to meet basic needs like housing, food, clothing and access to
medical care, according to the report.
The findings were particularly
troubling because children who suffer such abuse tend to go on to have numerous
health and other problems, officials said.
"The findings do demonstrate a clear
pattern of early neglect and physical abuse that is largely preventable,"
Ileana Arias, who heads injury prevention efforts at the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters.
Based on data from child protection agencies in 45 states, the report found
that more than 2.3 percent of infants up to age 1 suffered substantiated
nonfatal maltreatment in fiscal 2006, which ran from October 1, 2005, to
September 30, 2006.
"Unfortunately, the report didn't surprise me," Jim Hmurovich, who heads the
Chicago-based advocacy group Prevent Child Abuse America, said in a
"When a child is born, no matter how well the parent has been prepared for
the coming of the child, it's a very stressful time. We know that the
younger a child is, the higher the rate of victimization," Hmurovich added.
Most cases of maltreatment in the
first week were reported by medical personnel, the CDC said. Thirteen
percent of those week-old babies had been subjected to physical abuse.
"One hypothesis for the concentration of maltreatment and neglect reports in
the first few days of life is that the majority of reports resulted from
maternal or newborn drug tests," the CDC report said.
The report said 905,000 U.S.
children of all ages were victims of maltreatment in 2006.
Maltreatment is the third leading cause of death of U.S. children under 3,
CDC epidemiologist Rebecca Leeb said most similar previous research focused
on children from birth to age 3. Because this is the first data looking at
babies up to age 1, it is unclear whether the problem is increasing or
decreasing, Leeb said.
"We looked at some rates in Canada and it looks like the rates are fairly
similar to what they're seeing. But we have no idea what the trends are at
this time," Leeb added.
Slightly more boys than girls were victims. The CDC report did not provide
rates among racial or ethnic groups.
This CDC report provides 2006
statistics on mistreatment of American children under one year old. The
summary doesn't estimate how much such abuse goes unreported.
The statistics probably greatly understate the true number of abused
infants, since typical parents would try to hide or deny it.
The report doesn't describe how
these statistics were gathered. It also doesn't examine what triggered the
abuse, or how many abusive parents and grandparents were abused themselves in
their early years.
A CDC official is quoted as saying such abuse and neglect "is largely
preventable" - but doesn't suggest how. The finding that much of the
infant mal-treatment related to maternal drug use illustrates how the
effects of the [wounds + unawareness]
gets passed down our generations. Drug dependence is usually self-medication