Infants below age one at high physical abuse risk

London: Infants under the age of 12 months are prone to the risk of serious physical abuse at home, reveals a study.

The severity of their injuries means that they are three times more likely to die than children who have sustained other types of trauma, according to researchers.

To reach this conclusion, the scientists looked at TARN, a database which collects information on patients treated for injuries that are sufficiently severe to warrant hospital treatment for at least three days.

Between 2004 and 2013, nearly 16,000 children up-to the age of 16 were treated for severe injuries.

In 2012, TARN identified deliberate physical trauma as a significant cause of injury in young children.

The data supplied by the hospitals were categorised as: accidental injury, suspected child abuse and alleged assault which typically includes injuries sustained during fighting.

A clear pattern emerged for children who had been abused. Nearly all of them were under the age of five and three quarters of them were less than a year old.

“The injuries of abused children were more severe and tended to involve the head/brain,” the authors noted.

Accidental injuries tended to involve the arms and legs, while alleged assaults more commonly affected the torso.

A relatively small proportion of the children died as a result of their injuries, but abused children were three times more likely to do so.

It may simply be that the more robust physique of an older child means that major trauma is more difficult to inflict, the researchers noted in the study published in the Emergency Medicine Journal.