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Bruising in Young Children

By Mary Clyde Pierce, MD, and Kim Kaczor, MCS, MPH

Child abuse and neglect (CAN) is a leading cause of death among children 0-4 years of age. In 2021, approximately 1,820 children died from abuse and neglect. Younger children were the most vulnerable. More than three-quarters of all deaths from CAN involved children 4 years of age and younger, and nearly half involved infants who died before their first birthday. There are clear disparities in CAN fatalities with Black children dying at a rate that is three times higher than White children and almost four times higher than Hispanic children. Boys had a nearly 1.5 times higher rate of CAN mortality than girls. In 2021, the fatality rate from CAN in Illinois was higher than the national average—in fact, it was the fifteenth highest among all states—signaling a need for better identification and prevention.

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