Dutch study highlights crying as risk factor for child abuse

October 07, 2004

Doctors and other health-care professionals should be more aware of the association between infant crying and potentially abusive parental behaviour, conclude authors of a research letter in this week's issue of The Lancet.

Child abuse and neglect are important causes of child illness and death. An estimated 6 young infants per 100,000 die from the effects of child abuse each year; non-fatal infant morbidity could be up to 2000 times greater than this annual death rate. Sijmen A Reijneveld (University of Groningen, and TNO Prevention and Health) and colleagues assessed potentially detrimental parental actions induced by infant crying in 3259 infants aged 1-6 months, in the Netherlands.

Over 5% of parents reported having smothered, slapped, or shaken their baby (by age 6 months) at least once because of its crying. The risks of detrimental actions were highest for parents from non-industrialised countries, those with either no job or a job with short working hours, and those who judged their infant's crying to be excessive.

Professor Reijneveld comments: "Clinicians and other health-care providers working with parents of infants should be aware of the risks for young children associated with their crying, especially if parents report a history of what they regard to be excessive crying and they are in a social position that could put pressure on the family situation. The actual duration of crying at a given moment seems to be less relevant than the parents' perception of the crying of their infant in the long term. Furthermore, our results show that the number of infants implicated is substantial, highlighting an urgent need to teach carers of infants how to cope adequately with infant crying, including telling parents that the average 1-month-old baby cries 1.5 h per day, asking questions about crying during routine well-baby visits, and providing additional support services and follow-up for those at risk".

In an accompanying commentary (p 1295), Clare Sheridan (Loma Linda University Children's Hospital, USA) states: "It is the parents' or caretakers' abnormal response to an infant crying that leads to abuse. We need to study, hold accountable, and offer psychological treatment to the caretakers, not blame the infants as the agents of their own maltreatment... We must encourage clinicians to tell parents that they have a normal infant if they cry, not a child that needs correction".
-end-
Contact: Professor Sijmen A Reijneveld , c/o Margo van der Gaag, TNO Prevention and Health, telephone 31-71-518-1694; M.vandergaag@pg.tno.nl

Dr Clare Sheridan, Division of Forensic Pediatrics, Loma Linda University Children's Hospital, Loma Linda, CA 92350, USA;
T) +1 909 558 8242;
CSheridan@ahs.llumc.edu

ISSUE: 9-15 October 2004

Lancet

Related Child Abuse Articles from Brightsurf:

Screening may bypass one-quarter of child abuse cases
Up to one-quarter of people who suffer child sexual abuse might be passed over for treatment because of current screening procedures, according to UC Riverside psychology researchers.

Molecular stress indicator not observed in survivors of child sexual abuse
Researchers and medical experts have long known that child sexual abuse has profoundly negative effects on the health of survivors; however, an international team of researchers was not able to find a link between the abuse and telomere length, considered an indicator of cellular aging and health.

Research shows child abuse and neglect results in increased hospitalizations over time
In a new study published in the leading international journal, Child Abuse and Neglect, University of South Australia researchers have found that by their mid-teens, children who were the subject of child protective services contact, are up to 52 per cent more likely to be hospitalised, for a range of problems, the most frequent being mental illness, toxic effects of drugs and physical injuries.

Research helps police understand child to parent abuse more than ever before
Researchers have provided detailed insights and recommendations to help one of the UK's largest police forces recognise, report and analyse instances of violence from children towards parents.

Drug reduces the risk of child sexual abuse
A drug that lowers levels of the male hormone testosterone in the body reduces the risk of men with pedophilic disorder sexually abusing children, a study from Karolinska Institutet published today in the journal JAMA Psychiatry shows.

Child abuse awareness month during COVID-19 pandemic
This Patient Page calls attention to risk factors for child abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic and discusses ways to reduce stress and risk of child abuse during social isolation.

Infant home visiting program linked to less child abuse
Family Connects, a nurse home visiting program for newborns and their parents, is linked to substantial reductions in child maltreatment investigations in children's earliest years, according to new research from Duke University.

Child abuse associated with physiologically detected hot flashes
Childhood abuse has been shown to lead to an array of health problems later in life.

Injury more likely due to abuse when child was with male caregiver
The odds of child physical abuse vs. accidental injury increased substantially when the caregiver at the time of injury was male, according to a new study published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Child abuse linked to risk of suicide in later life
Children who experience physical, sexual, and emotional abuse or neglect are at least two to three times more likely to attempt suicide in later life, according to the largest research review carried out of the topic.

Read More: Child Abuse News and Child Abuse Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.