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Child Abuse Negl. 2004 Oct;28(10):1099-111.

Abusive head trauma in young children: characteristics and medical charges in a hospitalized population.

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Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.



To describe the presenting characteristics, hospital course, and hospital charges associated with hospital admissions for head trauma in young children at a regional pediatric trauma center, and to examine whether these factors differ among abused and non-abused subjects.


Comparative case series study involving a retrospective medical record review of children less than 3 years of age admitted to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh from January 1, 1995 to December 31, 1999. Subjects (n=377) were identified on the basis of ICD-9-CM codes for head injury. Subjects were classified as abused or non-abused based on standard criteria using information about the type of injuries, the history provided by the caretaker, and physical and radiographic findings.


Eighty nine (23.6%) subjects were classified as abused and 288 (76.4%) were classified as non-abused. Abused subjects were more likely then non-abused subjects to be <1 year of age (vs. >1 year of age) (OR: 9.8; 95% CI: 5.0, 19.2), covered by Medicaid (vs. commercial insurance) (OR: 2.8; 95% CI: 1.7, 4.8), and admitted to the ICU (OR: 3.5; 95% CI: 2.1, 5.8; p<.001). The caretakers of abused subjects were more likely to give a history of no trauma or minor trauma compared to the caretakers of non-abused subjects (97% vs. 54%, p<.001). Length of stay was significantly greater for abused subjects versus non-abused subjects (mean: 9.25 days vs. 3.03 days, p<.001). Hospital charges (1999 dollars) were significantly higher for abused (mean+/-SD: 40,082 dollars +/- 58,004 dollars) versus non-abused (mean +/- SD: 15,671 dollars +/- 41,777 dollars) subjects.


These results highlight the differences in the demographics, presenting characteristics and economic impact of abusive head injuries compared to non-abusive head injuries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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