Science

The number of children being shaken in the Paris region doubled during Covid, study says – Science et Avenir

The incidence of shaken baby syndrome doubled and its death rate increased nine-fold in the Paris area during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

Research teams from the Necker-Enfants Malades hospital at AP-HP and from the University of Paris-Cite, together with a team from Inserm, analyzed the evolution of the frequency and severity of shaken baby syndrome (SBS) in infants at Ilya. de France during the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic (period 2020-2021) compared to the pre-pandemic period (period 2017-2019).

SBS is the most severe form of child abuse and neglect, and the most common cause of traumatic death among infants in high-income countries.

Non-lethal forms of SBS are associated with severe long-term illnesses such as neurodevelopmental disorders (epilepsy, motor and visual impairments, speech disorders, mental retardation, and behavioral abnormalities) leading to lifelong disability.

A total of 99 infants with SBS were included in the study.

All of these infants showed very frequent signs of the severity of the abuse inflicted: 87% had rupture of the pontine veins (connecting the brain to the inner wall of the skull), 75% had retinal hemorrhages, 32% had fractures, 26% had status epilepticus, and 13% died.

Compared to the pre-pandemic period (2017-2019), the incidence of SBS remained stable in 2020, then doubled in 2021, and mortality increased 9-fold, the study says.

The scientific, medical and social community expressed concern very early on about the risk of an “explosion” in the number of cases of child abuse and neglect, in particular SBS, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and containment measures, remind the authors of the study.

For the research team, the fact that this massive increase in SBS did not occur during the first year of the pandemic, when containment and mitigation measures were at their peak, but during the second year could be explained by the accumulation of psychosocial distress.

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