Parental incarceration and child mortality in Denmark

Am J Public Health. 2014 Mar;104(3):428-33. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301590. Epub 2014 Jan 16.


Objectives: We used Danish registry data to examine the association between parental incarceration and child mortality risk.

Methods: We used a sample of all Danish children born in 1991 linked with parental information. We conducted discrete-time survival analysis separately for boys (n = 30 146) and girls (n = 28 702) to estimate the association of paternal and maternal incarceration with child mortality, controlling for parental sociodemographic characteristics. We followed the children until age 20 years or death, whichever came first.

Results: Results indicated a positive association between paternal and maternal imprisonment and male child mortality. Paternal imprisonment was associated with lower child mortality risks for girls. The relationship between maternal imprisonment and female child mortality changed directions depending on the model, suggesting no clear association.

Conclusions: These results indicate that the incarceration of a parent may influence child mortality but that it is important to consider the gender of both the child and the incarcerated parent.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Mortality / trends*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Fathers*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mothers*
  • Prisoners*
  • Registries
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Young Adult