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Incidence of Abusive Head Trauma in Infants May Be Up During Lockdown

Abusive head trauma cases increased 1,493 percent compared with previous three years

MONDAY, July 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) — From March 23 to April 23, 2020, there was a very large increase in the incidence of abusive head trauma (AHT) seen in very young children, according to a research letter published online July 2 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Jai Sidpra, from University College London Medical School, and colleagues reviewed the incidence of suspected AHT between March 23 and April 23, 2020, during the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic and compared this incidence with that of the previous three years.

The researchers found that during the study period, 10 children (mean age, 192 days) with suspected AHT were seen compared with a mean of 0.67 cases per month in the same period during the previous three years, corresponding with an increase of 1,493 percent in AHT cases. Fifty percent of patients had colic prior to presentation, 40 percent were apneic with decreasing consciousness, and 20 percent had seizures. Retinal hemorrhages, extensive bruising, scalp swelling, and excoriation marks were seen in 50, 50, 50, and 10 percent, respectively. Radiologic findings included subdural hemorrhage, cerebral edema, parenchymal contusion, skull fractures, subarachnoid hemorrhage, and extracranial fractures (60, 40, 40, 40, 30, and 30 percent, respectively).

“This sobering figure is likely underrepresented due to public avoidance of hospitals at this time,” the authors write. “In the background of the intensely public SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, a more silent pandemic is occurring, of which the medical community must remain astutely aware.”

Abstract/Full Text

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