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The MMWR is embargoed until 12 Noon, ET, Thursdays

March 8, 2002
Contact: CDC, National Center for Injury
Prevention and Control
(770) 4884298

Fact Sheet

Homicide Risk Among Infants

  • Homicide is the 15th leading cause of infant death in the United States. The risk of homicide is greater in infancy than in any other year of childhood before age 17.


  • Infants are at greatest risk for homicide during the first week of infancy and the first day of life.


  • Among homicides during the first week of life, 82.6% occurred on the day of birth.


  • The homicide rate on the first day of life was more than ten times greater than the rate during any other time of life.


  • Among homicides on the first day of life, previous work has shown that 95% of victims are not born in a hospital.


  • The second highest peak in risk for infant homicide occurs during the eighth week of life and may be due to a caregiver's reaction to an infant's persistent crying. Infant crying duration peaks at six to eight weeks of age.


  • Among homicides during the first week of life, 89% of perpetrators are female, usually the mother. Mothers who kill their infants are more likely to be adolescents and have a history of mental illness.


The full report is available online at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr. For more information on injuries and violence, visit this CDC website http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc.

 


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