Abusive Head Trauma in Day Care Centers
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Abusive head trauma (AHT) warrants particular attention in terms of prevention. One of the key questions asked is how often AHT occurs in infant day care centers compared with private parental or nonparental homes. To investigate this, the caretaking arrangement and child’s location at the time of injury in a cohort of cases involving AHT from the courts was studied.

This multicenter retrospective study covering an 18-year period included all medical and court records of 323 children (2.5 months to 3 years) with AHT, confirmed by the authors acting as medical experts. All markers for abuse and forensic written reports were analyzed by using a standardized data collection tool. The usual child care arrangement and the child’s location at the time of injury were noted. The percentage of day care centers found in the study was compared to the expected rate in the French population (19.5%) by using the X2 test.

In 317 AHT cases (98.5%), the assault occurred in a private home (4 in other indoor settings and 1 with missing data). In only 1 case, shaking occurred in a day care center when the nurse was alone with the infant for a few minutes. In 317 cases (98.5%), the usual child care arrangement was by a single adult in charge of 1 or more children.

The fact that AHT is an unusual occurrence in day care centers could help social service agencies make decisions in terms of prevention. Recent government policies regarding stay-at-home orders during a pandemic have given this issue new relevance.

Source: https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/146/6/e2020013771
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