Surge in domestic child abuse during pandemic, reports Great Ormond Street Hospital

Rise of 1493% in one month compared with same period in previous three years

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There has been a surge in domestic child abuse during the coronavirus pandemic, suggests the experience of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, reported* in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

In just one month, the number of new cases rose by 1493% compared with the same period in the previous three years, pointing to a “silent pandemic” in 2020, suggest the authors.

They compared the numbers of new cases of head injury caused by physical abuse among very young children seen between 23 March and 23 April this year and the same period in 2017, 2018, and 2019. 

March 23 marked the start of lockdown and a period of national self-isolation in the UK in a bid to curb the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infection.

Ten children (six boys and four girls) with suspected abusive head trauma presented for treatment during March-April. Their ages ranged from 17 days to 13 months old.

This figure compared with an average of around one case every couple of months for the same period in 2017, 2018, and 2019, representing an increase of 1493% in 2020, say the authors.

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