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Forensic Sci Int. 2000 Sep 11;113(1-3):215-8.

Child and elderly victims in forensic autopsy during a recent 5 year period in the southern half of Osaka city and surrounding areas.

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  • 1Department of Legal Medicine, Osaka City University Medical School, Asahi-machi 1-4-3, Abeno, 545-8585, Osaka, Japan.


To outline the recent features of child and elderly victims from the medico-legal perspective with special reference to abuse and neglect, a retrospective investigation of forensic autopsy cases over a 5 year period (1994-1998) in the southern half of Osaka city and surrounding areas (a population of 1.57 million) was undertaken. Among 646 autopsy cases, there were 53 child cases (under the age of 15 years, about 80% below 6) and 121 elderly cases (65 years old and above). Nearly half of the child deaths and more than half of the elderly deaths were described as accidental. Fire and traffic victims were much more frequent in the elderly. Child victims included those of neonaticide/infanticide (n=6), physical abuse (n=10), unintentional fatal infliction (n=2), neglect (n=2), mutual suicide (n=2), suicide (n=1) and murder (n=3). Child abuse and neglect were domestic maltreatment by the parents. In this series, there was a comparable number of fatalities due to maltreatment in the elderly (n=13) and in children, and non-domestic violence was more frequent in the elderly than domestic violence. Elderly females tended to be battered by their sons or grandsons in domestic violence cases, whereas males were predominantly attacked by younger males in non-domestic violence. The other elderly victims included those of self-neglect (n=2), murder (n=7) and suicide (n=9). Non-domestic homicide of the elderly occurred mainly in the center of the city, whereas domestic maltreatment of children and the elderly was sporadic, although somewhat more frequent in the peripheral zone of the city and the surrounding areas. The above profile of child and elderly abuse suggests a substantial influence of social and familial backgrounds.

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