New Form of Child Abuse On the Rise: Drugs and Alcohol

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Research published in the Journal of Pediatrics indicates the cases of adults dosing their children with common drugs is on the rise in the United States. The drugs include over-the-counter non-prescription varieties, as well as illegal drugs such as alcohol, cocaine and marijuana.

Dr. Shan Yin, of Denver’s Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, helped to lead and author the study. The research covered over 21.4 million calls to the National Poison Data System from the year 2000 to 2008. Selecting cases classified as “malicious” in the database, Yin discovered 1,439 cases where a parent had drugged their child with malicious intent. 172 of the children received serious injury and 18 children died.

Yin was unable to fully articulate reasons for the cases as the records do not reflect motivation. He believes that standard causes for child abuse may be the reason. Yin says child abuse covers a wide spectrum, from people who are not deliberately intent on harming their child to adults who might be amused by a child’s intoxication in a sick and disturbing way.

Yin, a medical toxicologist, advised that child abuse standards should include drug abuses, as they currently cover emotional, physical and sexual harm only.

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