A new report shows fewer children in Kentucky died from abuse and neglect last year, but the state remains among the top 10 worst states for child abuse.
In 2007, the state led the nation in child abuse deaths.
Doctors said education and legislation both helped that decrease, but there is still room for improvement.
The latest report from the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services shows 10 children in Kentucky died from abuse and neglect, and another 32 suffered life-threatening injuries.
“It can break every socioeconomic barrier, so it can be in any family and any household,” Dr. Erin Frazier said.
The number is down significantly from 2007, when Kentucky led the nation in child abuse deaths with 41.
Health professionals said education is one reason for the decline.
“(An) article in Pediatrics that shows a 50 percent reduction in abusive head trauma when families are educated on new babies before leaving the hospital,” Frazier said. “Thus, we’re seeing less deaths and also we’re seeing an increase in reports.”
According to the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the leading cause of death is abusive head trauma or shaken baby syndrome in children less than 1-year-old, which Frazier said, usually coincides with the time when babies cry the most.
“Babies cry, and sometimes, they cry a lot, and parents can’t always soothe baby, and that’s OK,” Frazier said.
Frazier said strides in legislation with the passage of two House bills mandating training on child abuse have taught people what signs of abuse might look like and what to watch for, prompting them to do something earlier.
“Children don’t die from first time of abuse. It tends to be a cycle of abuse over and over,” Frazier said.
Hospitals throughout Louisville, including at Norton Healthcare, already offer training on new babies, which Frazier thinks is an idea that should spread to every facility in the state.
Frazier also cautioned parents to do research before leaving their child with someone.
If a child is being abused, report it by calling 1-877-KY-SAFE-1 (1-877 597-2331).