Child maltreatment deaths in the U.S. National Child Death Review Case Reporting System

Child Abuse Negl. 2014 Jan;38(1):25-36. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.08.014. Epub 2013 Oct 2.


Comprehensive reviews of child death are increasingly conducted throughout the world, although limited information is available about how this information is systematically used to prevent future deaths. To address this need, we used cases from 2005 to 2009 in the U.S. National Child Death Review Case Reporting System to compare child and offender characteristics and to link that information with actions taken or recommended by review teams. Child, caretaker, and offender characteristics, and outcomes were compared to team responses, and findings were compared to published case series. Among 49,947 child deaths from 23 states entered into the Case Reporting System during the study period, there were 2,285 cases in which child maltreatment caused or contributed to fatality. Over one-half had neglect identified as the maltreatment, and 30% had abusive head trauma. Several child and offender characteristics were associated with specific maltreatment subtypes, and child death review teams recommended and/or planned several activities in their communities. Case characteristics were similar to those published in other reports of child maltreatment deaths. Teams implemented 109 actions or strategies after their review, and we found that aggregating information from child death reviews offers important insights into understanding and preventing future deaths. The National Child Death Review Case Reporting System contains information about a large population which confirms and expands our knowledge about child maltreatment deaths and which can be used by communities for future action.

Keywords: Child death review; Child fatality review; Fatal child abuse; Prevention; Teams.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / mortality*
  • Child Abuse / prevention & control
  • Child Welfare / statistics & numerical data
  • Child, Preschool
  • Data Collection
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology