Children with disabilities are at least three times more likely to experience abuse and neglect compared to their peers, and a new report published in Pediatrics underscores the role of pediatricians in preventing maltreatment and offers guidance on how they can support families.
“I’m always struck by the numbers of kids that are abused, and how prevalent abuse is in the population of children with disabilities,” says the lead author of the report, Lori A. Legano, MD, director of Child Protection Services in the Department of Pediatrics at NYU Langone Health.
Dr. Legano says the report, which is an update to a 2007 American Academy of Pediatrics paper, allows busy pediatricians, especially those without specific expertise on child maltreatment or disability, to be more aware of the increasingly well-documented issue and approach it in an informed and sensitive way. The report looked broadly at disability in children and adolescents as “any significant impairment in any area of motor, sensory, social, communicative, cognitive, or emotional functioning.”
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