FRIDAY, Oct. 8, 2021 (HealthDay News) — For school-aged children, there was an increase in nonaccidental trauma (NAT) during the stay-at-home orders (SHOs) in 2020, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, held virtually from Oct. 8 to 11.
Amelia Collings, M.D., from the University of Louisville in Kentucky, and colleagues conducted a multicenter study among patients aged younger than 18 years with traumatic injuries meeting criteria for NAT. Historical controls from an averaged period of March to September 2016 to 2019 were compared to those injured after implementation of SHOs through September 2020. Data were included for 39,331 pediatric trauma patients at nine Level I pediatric trauma centers, of whom 2,064 met the criteria for NAT.
The researchers found that the rate of NAT decreased below what was expected based on historical trends during the initial SHO, but increased thereafter above the expected rates. A significant increase in the proportion of NAT patients older than 5 years was seen in the COVID-19 cohort (30.8 percent versus 13.5 percent among historical controls). Compared with the historical cohort, 2020 saw an increased cumulative burden of NAT cases as reported to institutional trauma registries.
“Economic and emotional stress, in addition to the absence of other adults in the child’s life that would typically recognize and report abuse, may have contributed to increased rates of child abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Collings said in a statement. “While school-aged children were sheltered at home, teachers, health care workers, coaches, and other adults outside the family were not there to notice signs of physical abuse.”
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