By Leonie Segal, Jason M. Armfield, Emmanuel S. Gnanamanickam, et al., Pediatrics, December 2020
BACKGROUND: Child maltreatment (CM) is a global public health issue, with reported impacts on health and social outcomes. Evidence on mortality is lacking. In this study, we aimed to estimate the impact of CM on death rates in persons 16 to 33 years.
METHODS: A retrospective cohort study of all persons born in South Australia 1986 to 2003 using linked administrative data. CM exposure was based on child protection service (CPS) contact: unexposed, no CPS contact before 16 years, and 7 exposed groups. Deaths were observed until May 31, 2019 and plotted from 16 years. Adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs) by CPS category were estimated using Cox proportional hazards models, adjusting for child and maternal characteristics. Incident rate ratios (IRRs) were derived for major causes of death, with and without CPS contact.
CONCLUSIONS: CM is a major underlying cause of potentially avoidable deaths in early adulthood. Clinical and family-based support for children and families in which CM is occurring must be a priority to protect children from imminent risk of harm and early death as young adults.