Neonaticide: Phenomenology and considerations for prevention

Int J Law Psychiatry. 2009 Jan-Feb;32(1):43-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2008.11.006. Epub 2008 Dec 6.


This article explores the phenomenon of neonaticide, the murder of an infant during the first day of life. Characteristics of maternal neonaticide offenders in industrialized countries were identified based on a systematic literature review. Neonaticides were most often committed by poor, relatively young, single women who lacked prenatal care. Efforts to better prevent these tragedies should include improved sex education and contraceptive access. Two legal responses to the problem of neonaticide, Safe Haven laws utilized in the United States, and anonymous birth options in Europe are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child, Abandoned / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Denial, Psychological
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infanticide / prevention & control*
  • Infanticide / psychology
  • Infanticide / statistics & numerical data
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unwanted / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • United States