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Concept: Neglect


Despite growing recognition of neglectful, abusive, and disrespectful treatment of women during childbirth in health facilities, there is no consensus at a global level on how these occurrences are defined and measured. This mixed-methods systematic review aims to synthesize qualitative and quantitative evidence on the mistreatment of women during childbirth in health facilities to inform the development of an evidence-based typology of the phenomenon.

Concepts: Evidence-based medicine, Systematic review, Randomized controlled trial, Qualitative research, Neglect


Child sexual abuse is considered a modifiable risk factor for mental disorders across the life course. However the long-term consequences of other forms of child maltreatment have not yet been systematically examined. The aim of this study was to summarise the evidence relating to the possible relationship between child physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect, and subsequent mental and physical health outcomes.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Child abuse, Sexual abuse, Abuse, Neglect


CME EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES1.Review the definition, epidemiology, risk factors, and consequences of neglect.2.Provide a step-wise approach to the assessment of neglect, highlighting situations in which a report to child protective services is necessary.3.Describe promising strategies to help prevent child neglect. Child neglect, the most commonly reported form of maltreatment, can significantly impact a child’s long-term development. Pediatricians must understand how to recognize and respond to neglect. This article reviews the definition, epidemiology, risk factors, and consequences of neglect. It provides a step-wise approach to the assessment of neglect, highlighting the situations in which a report to child protective services is necessary. Additionally, promising strategies for child neglect prevention are described.

Concepts: Report, Educational psychology, Prevention, Pediatrics, Child abuse, Neglect, Primary care physician


The role of psychosocial factors in perpetuating and predisposing towards the development of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms has been neglected within the field of child mental health. Clinicians, when told that a child had a diagnosis of ADHD, have been found to underestimate the presence of psychosocial factors, and are less likely to ask about the possibility of neglect or abuse. This article details the considerable research showing links between ADHD symptoms and parental mental illness, child maltreatment, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attachment disorders and other environmental factors. Recent neuro-biological findings showing the impact on brain development of early abuse and attachment concerns are cited. The implications of these findings both for clinicians, and at policy level, are discussed, and the reasons underlying the need for a more integrated Bio-Psycho-Social approach to ADHD are outlined.

Concepts: Attention, Educational psychology, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Hyperactivity, Mental disorder, Neglect


Childhood adversity is associated with increased risk for psychopathology. Neurodevelopmental pathways underlying this risk remain poorly understood. A recent conceptual model posits that childhood adversity can be deconstructed into at least two underlying dimensions, deprivation and threat, that are associated with distinct neurocognitive consequences. This model argues that deprivation (i.e., a lack of cognitive stimulation and learning opportunities) is associated with poor executive function (EF), whereas threat is not. We examine this hypothesis in two studies measuring EF at multiple levels: performance on EF tasks, neural recruitment during EF, and problems with EF in daily life. In Study 1, deprivation (low parental education and child neglect) was associated with greater parent-reported problems with EF in adolescents (N = 169; 13-17 years) after adjustment for levels of threat (community violence and abuse), which were unrelated to EF. In Study 2, low parental education was associated with poor working memory (WM) performance and inefficient neural recruitment in the parietal and prefrontal cortex during high WM load among adolescents (N = 51, 13-20 years) after adjusting for abuse, which was unrelated to WM task performance and neural recruitment during WM. These findings constitute strong preliminary evidence for a novel model of the neurodevelopmental consequences of childhood adversity.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Cognitive science, Neuropsychology, Child abuse, Working memory, Neglect, Executive functions


The literature has been contradictory regarding whether parents who were abused as children have a greater tendency to abuse their own children. A prospective 30-year follow-up study interviewed individuals with documented histories of childhood abuse and neglect and matched comparisons and a subset of their children. The study assessed maltreatment based on child protective service (CPS) agency records and reports by parents, nonparents, and offspring. The extent of the intergenerational transmission of abuse and neglect depended in large part on the source of the information used. Individuals with histories of childhood abuse and neglect have higher rates of being reported to CPS for child maltreatment but do not self-report more physical and sexual abuse than matched comparisons. Offspring of parents with histories of childhood abuse and neglect are more likely to report sexual abuse and neglect and that CPS was concerned about them at some point in their lives. The strongest evidence for the intergenerational transmission of maltreatment indicates that offspring are at risk for childhood neglect and sexual abuse, but detection or surveillance bias may account for the greater likelihood of CPS reports.

Concepts: Child abuse, Neglect


Childhood maltreatment increases the risk of subsequent depression, anxiety and alcohol abuse, but the rate of resilient victims is unknown. Here, we investigated the rate of victims that do not suffer from clinical levels of these problems after severe maltreatment in a population-based sample of 10980 adult participants. Compared to men, women reported more severe emotional and sexual abuse, as well as more severe emotional neglect. For both genders, severe emotional abuse (OR = 3.80 [2.22, 6.52]); severe physical abuse (OR = 3.97 [1.72, 9.16]); severe emotional neglect (OR = 3.36 [1.73, 6.54]); and severe physical neglect (OR = 11.90 [2.66, 53.22]) were associated with depression and anxiety while only severe physical abuse (OR = 3.40 [1.28, 9.03]) was associated with alcohol abuse. Looking at men and women separately, severe emotional abuse (OR = 6.05 [1.62, 22.60] in men; OR = 3.74 [2.06, 6.81] in women) and severe physical abuse (OR = 6.05 [1.62, 22.60] in men; OR = 3.03 [0.99, 9.33] in women) were associated with clinical levels of depression and anxiety. In addition, in women, severe sexual abuse (OR = 2.40 [1.10, 5.21]), emotional neglect (OR = 4.78 [2.40, 9.56]), and severe physical neglect (OR = 9.86 [1.99, 48.93]) were associated with clinical levels of depression and anxiety. Severe emotional abuse in men (OR = 3.86 [0.96, 15.48]) and severe physical abuse in women (OR = 5.18 [1.48, 18.12]) were associated with alcohol abuse. Concerning resilience, the majority of severely maltreated participants did not report clinically significant levels of depression or anxiety (72%), or alcohol abuse (93%) in adulthood. Although the majority of severely abused or neglected individuals did not show clinical levels of depression, anxiety or alcohol use, severe childhood maltreatment increased the risk for showing clinical levels of psychopathology in adulthood.

Concepts: Domestic violence, Child abuse, Suffering, Abuse, Psychological abuse, Physical abuse, Neglect, Bullying


IMPORTANCE Child maltreatment is a risk factor for poor health throughout the life course. Existing estimates of the proportion of the US population maltreated during childhood are based on retrospective self-reports. Records of officially confirmed maltreatment have been used to produce annual rather than cumulative counts of maltreated individuals. OBJECTIVE To estimate the proportion of US children with a report of maltreatment (abuse or neglect) that was indicated or substantiated by Child Protective Services (referred to as confirmed maltreatment) by 18 years of age. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) Child File includes information on all US children with a confirmed report of maltreatment, totaling 5 689 900 children (2004-2011). We developed synthetic cohort life tables to estimate the cumulative prevalence of confirmed childhood maltreatment by 18 years of age. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES The cumulative prevalence of confirmed child maltreatment by race/ethnicity, sex, and year. RESULTS At 2011 rates, 12.5% (95% CI, 12.5%-12.6%) of US children will experience a confirmed case of maltreatment by 18 years of age. Girls have a higher cumulative prevalence (13.0% [95% CI, 12.9%-13.0%]) than boys (12.0% [12.0%-12.1%]). Black (20.9% [95% CI, 20.8%-21.1%]), Native American (14.5% [14.2%-14.9%]), and Hispanic (13.0% [12.9%-13.1%]) children have higher prevalences than white (10.7% [10.6%-10.8%]) or Asian/Pacific Islander (3.8% [3.7%-3.8%]) children. The risk for maltreatment is highest in the first few years of life; 2.1% (95% CI, 2.1%-2.1%) of children have confirmed maltreatment by 1 year of age, and 5.8% (5.8%-5.9%), by 5 years of age. Estimates from 2011 were consistent with those from 2004 through 2010. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Annual rates of confirmed child maltreatment dramatically understate the cumulative number of children confirmed to be maltreated during childhood. Our findings indicate that maltreatment will be confirmed for 1 in 8 US children by 18 years of age, far greater than the 1 in 100 children whose maltreatment is confirmed annually. For black children, the cumulative prevalence is 1 in 5; for Native American children, 1 in 7.

Concepts: Child abuse, Neglect


BACKGROUND: The Government in England has recognized the importance of early intervention to promote positive child development and prevent maltreatment. In doing so, efforts have been made to increase the implementation of the Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) to target a greater number of families who require intensive secondary intervention. METHODS: This paper presents an argument that the FNP can be targeted more effectively to yield a greater return on investment. This is based on the re-analysis of data collected by the largest cohort study carried out into risk factors for child maltreatment in England. RESULTS: Currently, around 315 health visitors are estimated to be implementing this programme, projected to increase to around 585 health visitors in 2015. However, targeting the programme towards first-time, young vulnerable mothers with low socio-economic status means that around 1350 health visitors would be needed. Critically, targeting only this population is estimated to prevent only 10% of cases of child abuse and neglect. CONCLUSIONS: By targeting risk factors which are less common in the general population but which are more prevalent amongst abusive families, fewer specialist health visitors would be needed to prevent a higher percentage of child maltreatment.

Concepts: Child abuse, Neglect


Child maltreatment (abuse and neglect) has established effects on mental health. Less is known about its influence on adult economic circumstances. We aimed to establish associations of child maltreatment with such outcomes and explore potential pathways.

Concepts: Child abuse, Abuse, Neglect