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Pediatría (Asunción)

On-line version ISSN 1683-9803


ZELAYA DE MIGLIOIRSI, Lourdes; GONZALEZ, Estela  and  PIRIS DE ALMIRON, Lina. Child Abuse: the Experience of the Multi-Disciplinary Mental Health Unit of the Niños de Acosta Ñú General Pediatric Hospital. Pediatr. (Asunción) [online]. 2009, vol.36, n.3, pp.190-194. ISSN 1683-9803.

Child abuse is the fourth most commonly diagnosed condition for patients seen at the mental health unit according to a previous study done at the general pediatric hospital, following only learning, mood, and behavior disorders.  The objective of our study was to describe the epidemiological characteristics, most frequent motives for consultation, and diagnoses associated with child abuse. We reviewed 1356 medical records covering the period of July 2001 to September 2009, of which 45% were for male and 55% for female patients.  The most affected age group were those from ages 4-14 years (56.5%), with most victims (77%) being from the country's Central Department. Negligence or abandonment were the most common types of abuse (51%), followed by sexual abuse (18.3%). Victims were mistreated in a plurality of cases (38%) by both parents, by the father alone in 16% and by the mother alone in 14%, with these categories jointly making up 68% of the total cases. In 99% of cases the child knew the abuser. A plurality of cases (19%) were referred for treatment by the institution's own outpatient clinic. Of all cases examined, 26.8% consulted for symptoms of depression, while attempted suicide motivated 8% of consultations, and domestic violence 11.3%. Diagnoses most commonly associated with child abuse were depressive disorders (60.5%), followed by behavior or attention deficit disorders (7.7%). It is concluded that the presence of depressive disorders or symptoms with or without suicide attempts should alert the pediatrician to suspect child abuse.

Keywords : Child abuse; child neglect; sexual child abuse; child health services; mental health services; depressive disorder.

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