Fatality after report to a child abuse registry in Washington State, 1973-1986

Child Abuse Negl. 1992 Sep-Oct;16(5):627-35. doi: 10.1016/0145-2134(92)90101-v.


Between 1973 and 1986, 11,085 children born in Washington State were reported to the state child abuse registry. We analyzed the fatality rate subsequent to reported abuse for this cohort of children compared to a population of nonabused children matched on sex, county of birth, and year of birth. Children reported to the child abuse registry had an almost threefold greater risk of death than the comparison population. A report of physical abuse carried the greatest risk of subsequent death. However, the relative risks were also elevated for children who suffered neglect or sexual abuse. Children reported to the registry were almost 20 times more likely than the comparison population to die from homicide. Children less than 1 year of age at time of reported abuse had the highest fatality rate subsequent to abuse, but adolescents had the highest relative risk for fatality after abuse, compared to the population of nonabused children. Rates of fatality subsequent to abuse were equal for males and females. Although this study could not measure the extent to which any given intervention reduced the risk of subsequent fatality in abused children, registries can serve a valuable function in identifying subpopulations at risk and quantifying that risk relative to the general population.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / statistics & numerical data
  • Adolescent
  • Cause of Death*
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / mortality*
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / mortality*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk
  • Washington / epidemiology