Medical Practice

134 Battered Children: A Medical and Psychological Study

Br Med J 1974; 3 doi: (Published 14 September 1974) Cite this as: Br Med J 1974;3:666
  1. Selwyn M. Smith,
  2. Ruth Hanson


    A controlled investigation of 134 battered children showed that nearly half had serious injuries and 21 died. Sixty-five had been battered more than once, 20 had permanent neurological sequelae, a quarter were low birth weight babies, and 10 had serious congenital defects. Twenty-three had been previously admitted to hospital with failure to thrive and the overlap with physical neglect was considerable. Mortality and morbidity among their siblings was also high. Difficulties with the child were attributable to interaction with neurotic mothers.

    The risk of battering diminishes after a child's second birthday. The establishment of specialized hospital teams to tackle the overall problem is suggested as a method of improving management. Prevention may lie in educating mothers in the basic physical and psychological requirements of children and overcoming their reluctance to avail themselves of medical care.

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