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Child abuse increasing in Montgomery County

Thursday - 4/17/2014, 4:20pm  ET

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County executive Isiah Leggett poses with health care officials displaying onesies printed with the word 'Fragile," handed out to new parents. (Courtesy Shady Grove Adventist Hospital)

WASHINGTON - Each month since August of last year, a baby has died from child abuse in Montgomery County.

A spike in fatal cases has prompted county health officials to reach out to parents who might be unaware they're hurting their kids.

Child welfare services is investigating an average of two cases of life threatening injures each month -- all children under the age of four.

And so far this year, six children under the age of four have died, compared to seven total cases for the past two years combined, according to the agency.

But the agency's director, Agnes Leshner, says in many cases the parents weren't intending to hurt their baby.

"When the parents become overwhelmed and frustrated they squeeze the ribs, or when the babies are kicking, they twist the legs of the baby and the legs break," Leshner says.

It's normal for parents to get to the point of exasperation, says pediatric ER manager at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Mridula Niac. But she says parents should know when to walk away.

"That's the time I think as a parent you're very vulnerable to shaking or doing something to your children that you wouldn't do in normal circumstances," Niac says.

During child abuse awareness month in April, the county is reaching out to young parents at hospitals and home visits as well as talking to kids in high school health classes.

"We want young parents in particular to be aware the type of squeezing you and I can take fine, babies can't," she says.

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