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ROCKVILLE, Md. (WUSA9) -- Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and the Shady Grove Adventist Hospital launched a new effort Thursday, to battle a dramatic increase in child deaths and serious injuries due to child abuse.

Since August 2013, the county has averaged one child abuse death per month in children under four, and two cases of life-threatening injures per month in children under age three.

Pediatric emergency Doctor, Erik Schobitz says young parents under stress are at the highest risk of committing abuse, and prevention should focus on directing young parents into classes and support groups designed to teach basic parenting and coping skills.

The message was echoed by Montgomery County Director of Child Welfare Services Agnes, "The cases of the child fatalities that we've seen during 2014 are for the most part young parents, 17 to 24," Leshner said.

Shady Grove Hospital and its satellite facility in Germantown deal with more than 30,000 pediatric visits a year. The hospital now hopes to draw young parents attention to free parenting classes and support groups by dressing every newborn in a onesie printed with the message "FRAGILE - HANDLE WITH CARE".

At least 7,000 parents attend hospital classes annually.

Similar free classes are conducted across Montgomery County by a wide variety of groups, Leshner said.

Parents can learn more about the classes by asking during visits to the hospital or by calling Montgomery County's Department of Health and Human Services at 240-777-4000.

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