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More Than 90,000 U.S. Infants Are Victims of Abuse or Neglect
Date:4/3/2008

Effects of maltreatment can damage a child for a lifetime, researchers say,,,,

THURSDAY, April 3 (HealthDay News) -- An estimated 91,000 babies in the United States were victims of maltreatment in 2006 during their first year of life, including 29,181 infants who suffered abuse or neglect during their first week of life, federal officials reported Thursday.

The report -- the first national examination of the risk for nonfatal maltreatment of children less than 1 year old -- was based on data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System.

"We weren't surprised by these numbers, but we certainly were distressed," Ileana Arias, director of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, said during a teleconference. "It's a picture you don't even want to imagine, that this number of infants are being maltreated in ways that are largely preventable."

Most maltreatment of infants less than a week old was the result of neglect, which is the failure to provide for basic physical and emotional needs or to protect the child from harm, Arias said. Neglect accounted for 68.5 percent of the reported cases. A smaller number of infants -- 13.2 percent -- were victims of physical abuse by a parent or caregiver that resulted in injury during the first week of life, she said.

Almost 40 percent of the infants were abused or neglected during their first month after birth.

The causes of the maltreatment aren't clear from the data, Arias said. However, neglect includes abandonment and prenatal exposure to drugs, which appear to be common problems, she said.

When children are mistreated, the consequences can haunt them the rest of their lives, Arias noted.

Children who suffer maltreatment are at higher risk for engaging in risky behaviors -- such as alcohol and drug abuse -- during adolescence and adulthood, Arias said. "Because of th
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