Recession Saw Rise in Shaken-Baby Cases

The faltering economy didn’t just affect Americans’ wallets — the recession also led to an increase in child abuse, according to a study presentation at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting, Time magazine reported.

Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburg reported a significant rise in child injuries due to shaken baby syndrome. After analyzing 512 cases from their centers in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Washington, they found that cases had increased from six per month in 2004 to more than nine cases per month by December 2007.

Shaken baby syndrome occurs most commonly when a frustrated parent or other adult shakes their child in an attempt to stop them from crying. The forced motion results in the child’s brain thrashing around inside the skull, causing crushed blood vessels and damaged tissue.

The head of the research team in the study, child abuse expert Dr. Rachel Berger, said she is not surprised that the stress of the weak economy on adults is affecting their children.

"This is a perfect storm in a bad way, where we have economic stressors that are causing the removal of social-service resources for preventing and addressing child abuse," said Berger.

Just seconds of shaking a child causes potential for long-term negative developmental effects, such as vision and hearing problems, learning disabilities, and seizures.

In Berger’s study of children between the age of nine months and 6-years-old, 63 percent required hospitalization as a result of shaking, and 16 percent of the cases were fatal.

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