An update on child abuse and neglect

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Purpose of review

Nonaccidental trauma and neglect continue to be major problems for children, families, and the providers who care for them. Whereas prevention is the key to ending child abuse and neglect, diagnosis and treatment continue to be the mainstays of practice. This article will briefly review the epidemiology, diagnosis, sequelae, and prevention of abuse and neglect in today’s world.

Recent findings

The latest statistics estimate that more than 900,000 children are victims of child maltreatment. Abuse occurs at all ages but is most common in younger children. Child abuse may manifest as skin injuries, skeletal trauma, head injury, or many other forms. Information on abusive head trauma has been published in large amounts in the past year and is reviewed in further depth. The long-term consequences, the keys to prevention, and the role for pediatric providers are also reviewed.


Whereas great strides have been made in diagnosing and treating child abuse, our work has been cut out for us in preventing child abuse. Pediatric clinicians must continue to screen patients and families, recognize signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect, and find time to advocate for home visits, early intervention programs, and education on this very important topic.

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