TUESDAY, Nov. 5, 2019 (HealthDay News) — From 2010 to 2016, there was an increase in the number of adolescents admitted to emergency departments for confirmed sexual abuse, according to a research letter published online Nov. 4 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Jesse J. Helton, Ph.D., from the College of Public Health and Social Justice at St. Louis University, and colleagues examined data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project from Jan. 1, 2010, to Dec. 31, 2016, to examine patterns among children admitted to the emergency department for sexual abuse.

Between 2010 and 2016, 190,444,745 children were admitted to emergency departments. The researchers found that 46,993 of these children were admitted for confirmed sexual abuse; 85.14 percent were girls and 44.75 percent were aged 12 to 17 years. From 2010 to 2016, there was an increase in the number of emergency department admissions for child sexual abuse, from 5,138 to 8,818, corresponding to an increase from 6.93 to 11.97 admissions per 100,000 children aged younger than 18 years. The increased rate of sexual abuse cases may be linked to an increase in the number of adolescents admitted to the emergency department (from 44.37 of 5,138 patients in 2010 to 57.36 percent of 8,818 patients in 2016). These data indicated an increase in emergency department admission for sexual abuse, from 8.02 to 20.20 emergency department admissions per 100,000 adolescents.

“Our data did not allow us to identify factors that may have been associated with this increase,” the authors write. “Several leading possibilities include the increased number of girls who were subjected to sex trafficking and the greater awareness and sensitivity of medical professionals regarding sexual assault.”

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