Breaking away from child abuse?

     
   

When an infant breaks a bone, it’s often not an accident. In fact, doctors cite abuse in more than a third of bone fractures in babies under a year old. But according to a new Yale study, that number may be on the decline.

John M. Leventhal, M.D., professor of pediatrics, and colleagues analyzed 24 years of data on fractures in children under 3 years old at Yale-New Haven Hospital. As reported in the March issue of Child Abuse & Neglect: The International Journal, the likelihood of a fracture being rated by the hospital as abuse fell substantially from 1979 to 2002, to just over 10 percent.

“We’re encouraged by this,” says Leventhal, even though his team’s results seem to be at odds with an increased number of calls to child protective services seen over the past decades, both in Connecticut and nationally. Leventhal proposes that these calls may bring lower-risk families and mild abusive injuries to the attention of authorities, leading to early intervention and a decrease in serious injuries like fractures and burns.


 

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