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Pediatric Hospital Admissions with Concern for Neglect: Correlations Between Neglect Types and Other Clinical and Environmental Risk Factors.

OBJECTIVE: Child neglect is a public health concern with negative consequences that impact children, families, and society. While neglect is involved with many pediatric hospitalizations, few studies explore characteristics associated with neglect types, social needs, and post-discharge care.

METHODS: Data on neglect type, sociodemographics, social needs, inpatient consultations, and post-discharge care were collected from the electronic medical record for children aged 0-5 years who were hospitalized with concern for neglect during 2016-2020. Frequencies and percentages were calculated to determine sample characteristics. The Chi-square Test for Independence was used to evaluate associations between neglect type and other variables.

RESULTS: The most common neglect types were inadequate nutrition (40%), inability to provide basic care (37%), intrauterine substance exposure (25%), combined types (23%), and inadequate medical care (10%). Common characteristics among neglect types included age less than 1 year, male sex, Hispanic ethnicity, public insurance, past involvement with Child Protective Services, and inpatient consultation services (social work, physical therapy, and occupational therapy), and post-discharge recommendations (primary care, physical therapy, and regional center). Neglect type groups varied by child medical history, social needs, and discharge recommendations. Statistically significant associations supported differences per neglect type.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings highlight five specific types of neglect seen in an impoverished and ethnically diverse geographic region. Post-discharge care needs should focus on removing social barriers and optimizing resources, in particular mental health, to mitigate the risk of continued neglect. Future studies should focus on prevention strategies, tailored interventions, and improved resource allocations per neglect type and discharge location.

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