(RNN) - The emotional cost of child abuse is heartbreaking and substantial, but the financial cost to taxpayers is downright staggering.
According to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just one year's worth of new child abuse cases costs the U.S. $124 billion over the course of the victims' lifetimes.
"Federal, state and local public health agencies, as well as policymakers, must advance the awareness of the lifetime economic impact of child maltreatment," said Dr. Linda C. Deguitis, director of the CDC's National Center for Injury and Prevention Control.
The study, led by Xiangming Fang of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, found that the lifetime cost for each child surviving physical, sexual and/or psychological abuse and neglect was $210,000.
The price was comparable to lifetime costs for people suffering from high profile health conditions such as a stroke (about $160,000) or type 2 diabetes (between $181,000 and $253,000).
More than a half-million children per year are reported to authorities as possible abuse or neglect victims.
During one typical year profiled by researchers, 579,000 child maltreatment cases were reported in 2008, with 1,740 children dying from abuse or neglect.
The CDC study took into account a number of factors to come up with its final estimate of costs, including medical and criminal justice fees. It also found that an estimated $144,360 of lifetime earnings were lost to each child surviving abuse, assuming that they lived and worked until retirement age.
In contrast, the estimated cost for each child who died as a result of abuse was nearly $1.3 million, due mainly to the estimated loss in lifetime wages.
A separate study, scheduled for publication in the March 2012 issue of Pediatrics, found that an estimated $73.8 million was spent each year for the hospitalization of child abuse victims.
Led by Dr. John M. Leventhal, medical director of the Child Abuse Program at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital, the study focused on whether a child was hospitalized for abuse or not.
In 2006, more than 4,500 children were admitted to the hospital because of abuse, 300 of which died from their injuries. The study found that approximately 59 in every 100,000 infants were hospitalized because of abuse, the highest of any age group.
"These numbers are higher than the rate of sudden infant death syndrome, which is alarming," said Dr. Leventhal. Sudden infant death syndrome affects approximately 50 of every 100,000 children.
Both studies emphasized the importance of prevention programs in stopping child abuse.
The CDC study will appear in an upcoming issue of Child Abuse and Neglect, The International Journal.
Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.