Identifying indicators during pregnancy for child maltreatment

Erika L. Thompson, Lindsay A. Thompson, Erik W. Black, Debra Esernio-Jenssen, Nancy Hardt, Rajeeb Das, Jeffrey Roth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


To measure the effect of a short interpregnancy interval (IPI), along with other indicators routinely asked during pregnancy on later report of child maltreatment. We hypothesized that an IPI of <18 months was associated with increased risk of child maltreatment. This study was a secondary analysis of a linked population-based dataset from 2005 to 2007 in Florida. Data were derived from three sources: Birth Certificates, Healthy Start Prenatal Risk Screens, and the HomeSafeNet Database. Primary predictor variables were IPI, and mothers' evaluations of the timing of the pregnancy and perceptions of harm. Logistic regression analyses were used to estimate the odds of child maltreatment, adjusting for demographic and other known risk factors for maltreatment. The final study sample consisted of 85,258 multipara women-infant dyads with credible IPIs and with completed Healthy Start Prenatal Risk Screens. Seventeen percent of children had a report of child maltreatment in the first 5 years of life. An IPI of less than 18 months was associated with 18 % higher odds of maltreatment compared to an IPI of greater than 18 months (95 % CI 1.13, 1.23). Mothers' perception of harm and desire to be pregnant at a later time were also significantly associated with higher odds of maltreatment report (AOR = 2.43 95 % CI = 2.17, 2.71 and AOR = 1.18 95 % CI 1.13, 1.24, respectively). Ascertaining short IPI and asking pregnant and peripartum women about their perception of harm and desire for a longer birth spacing can alert obstetricians, family practitioners and pediatricians to potential child maltreatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1817-1824
Number of pages8
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Child abuse
  • Child neglect
  • Interpregnancy interval
  • Perinatal outcomes
  • Pregnancy


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