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Blueprint for 'normal' injuries

CHILDREN under the age of eight suffer a minor injury almost every day, researchers seeking early indications of neglect have found.

But the study by the Thomas Coram research unit at London University's Institute of Education discloses that the youngsters usually are not hurt enough to require more than a plaster.

Peak times for childhood injuries are between the ages of two and three and when children start school. Injuries to babies are usually caused by them falling on their heads, whereas older children tend to have cuts and bruises to their legs.

Of 700 childcarers, mainly mothers, surveyed for the research, only six reported an accident that required a visit to hospital or professional medical treatment.

Mothers required to keep diaries of incidents over nine days eported mainly bumps and bangs, half of which did not result in any visible injury.

Overall, most reported injuries were to the legs. Two-thirds of injuries to seven-year-olds were cuts and bruises to the leg.

According to project director Marjorie Smith, children from single-parent or other minority family types are no more likely to have suffered serious injury than those in two-parent families.

However, children were more likely to have suffered serious injury if their mothers were depressed or had had psychiatric treatment or if their parents had a violent or troubled relationshipship.

The research is being funded by the Department for Health in order to collect data on the likely injury rate among children for use as benchmark in cases of possible neglect.

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