Infanticide: Sociobiographical background and motivational aspects
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As part of an interdisciplinary project, all deaths of infants and juveniles examined at the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Bonn between 1970 and 1993 were reevaluated to determine the cause and circumstances of death, with a special interest in cases of infanticide by parents. Of the 757 cases, 51.5% were natural deaths (including "Sudden Infant Death"), and 13.6% were homicides. Most homicide victims were killed in their first year of life (70%) by their parents (58.2%) and more frequently by their mothers. Three types of infanticide could be distinguished: a group of "extended suicide", carried out mainly by psychotic or depressive mothers; "neonaticides", typically of a concealed pregnancy in immature young women and "child abuse", with the death of the infant following severe battering and involving also the father of the child. The possibility of prevention is discussed in light of the finding that in 71.4% of the cases with available information "warning signals" had been present.
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