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More than 200 abused children under age 5 died in U.S. hospitals in 2005

Of 6,700 children hospitalized for physical abuse or neglect in 2005, more than 200 died and all fatalities were under age 5, according to a new report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Children less than 5 years old comprised 80 percent of all those under 18 years of age who were admitted that year for abuse or neglect.

Hospital care for children who suffered physical, sexual, emotional abuse, or neglect cost almost $100 million. The average stay for an abused and/or neglected child cost $14,800—75 percent more than the average pediatric admission.

AHRQ's analysis also found that:

  • Children hospitalized due to abuse or neglect were seven times more likely to die in hospitals than children admitted for other reasons.
  • More than one-third of children hospitalized for physical abuse had head injuries, 26 percent had bruises, 21 percent had bleeding behind the eye, 20 percent had epileptic convulsions, and 18 percent had broken legs or feet.
  • Children from the poorest communities accounted for nearly 36 percent of hospitalizations for abuse or neglect, regardless of age. About 14 percent came from wealthy communities.
  • Medicaid was billed for 71 percent of these stays, private insurers were billed for 21 percent, nearly 5 percent were uninsured, and the rest were charged to other government payers such as Title V or TRICARE/CHAMPUS.

For more information, go to Hospital Stays Related to Child Maltreatment, 2005, HCUP Statistical Brief #49 ( The report uses statistics from the 2005 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.

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