The recent economic recession and housing crisis may have encouraged an increase in the rate of physical abuse and brain injury to American children, researchers in Philadelphia report.

The authors of the study compared patient discharge records from 38 hospitals with data on unemployment, inability to pay mortgages and foreclosures. The rate of child abuse had been falling during the 15 years that preceded 2010.

Although the findings do not confirm a direct link between broad economic conditions and child abuse rates, researchers say they call for a deeper consideration of the links between poverty and abusive behavior.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly

MedPage Today:

Each year between 2000 and 2009, rates of child hospitalizations for physical abuse increased by 0.79% … and admissions for traumatic brain injury rose by 3.1% …, according to Joanne N. Wood, MD, of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues.

… “These results suggest that housing concerns were a significant source of stress within communities and a harbinger for community maltreatment rates,” the researchers observed.

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