Dr. Tanya Burrell, a child abuse pediatrician at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., attributes the sharp rise in the number of abuse cases her team is called to consult at this time of the year to a combination of excessive passion for the game, big parties, gambling and drinking too much alcohol.
"We know that alcohol consumption does tend to cloud judgment, and that does put kids at risk," she explains. "You know that also includes neglect, so supervisional neglect, different kinds of injuries."
Burrell encourages parents to plan ahead, and if they're throwing or attending a Super Bowl party, to make sure children are in a safe place to play and away from heightened emotion or aggression.
Burrell adds that there's nothing wrong with being passionate about the game and enjoying a good party, but she stresses that it is no excuse for parents to abandon their fundamental role.
"If there is a baby that is crying during a high time in the middle of the game, if you can't handle it, put the baby down, give the baby to someone else and then just step away," she advises. "We are responsible for our kids, whether there is a Super Bowl game on or not."
Burrell says over that over the past several years, the number of child abuse consultations at Children's Mercy Hospital has doubled or even tripled in the weeks surrounding the Super Bowl, with doctors seeing a particularly marked increase in 2013.
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