Send to

Choose Destination
Child Abuse Negl. 1999 Apr;23(4):305-19.

Predicting child maltreatment in the first 4 years of life from characteristics assessed in the neonatal period.

Author information

Department of Maternal and Child Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 27599-7400, USA.



To examine the significance of neonatal risk factors from the individual, family, social, and parenting behavior domains of the ecological model of child maltreatment in predicting maltreatment reports in the first 4 years of life, and to examine the extent to which the interactions of life event stress and social support modify those risk factors.


Mothers of 708 predominantly at-risk infants were interviewed in their homes soon after their infants' discharge from the hospital. State child abuse and neglect central registry data were tracked every 6 months until the infants reached their fourth birthdays.


The incidence of maltreatment reports was higher in households where the mothers were depressed, complained of psychosomatic symptoms, had not graduated from high school, consumed alcohol, participated in public income support programs, cared for more than one dependent child, or were separated from their own mothers at age 14 years (p < .1). In interaction models including these seven predisposing variables, there were significant interactions (p < .01) between social support, as measured by the social well-being index after the birth of the index child, and depression, and between social well-being and stress, as measured by an increase in total life events.


Some predisposing risk factors measured soon after birth continue to be significant predictors of child maltreatment reports through the fourth year of life. In general, families with low levels of social support had a higher risk of a maltreatment report. For families with lower levels of maternal depression and/or life event stress, low social support significantly increased the risk of a maltreatment report by as much as a factor of four.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center