Background: Child maltreatment is a major public health problem, but population-based surveillance and research is hindered by limitations of official child welfare data. The present study used a promising complementary data source, hospital discharge data, to investigate risk factors for infant injuries suggestive of maltreatment. Methods: Discharge data from all hospital births to New York City residents from 1995 to 2004 were linked to birth certificates and to subsequent infant hospitalizations within 12 months after delivery. Probable maltreatment of infants was identified with 33 injury diagnosis codes highly correlated with maltreatment. Modified Poisson regression estimated the association of sociodemographic factors and pregnancy/birth characteristics with subsequent infant admission for probable maltreatment. Results: Risk factors for maltreatment included neonatal intensive care unit stays of more than 11 days (adjusted risk ratio [aRR] = 1.8; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.1–2.8), preterm birth (aRR = 1.6; 95% CI: 1.2–2.1), maternal age less than 20 years (aRR = 1.5; 95% CI: 1.2–1.9), and public insurance (aRR = 1.5; 95% CI: 1.2–1.9). Factors associated with reduced maltreatment risk included mother born outside the United States (aRR = 0.7; 95% CI: 0.6–0.8) and female infant (aRR = 0.7; 95% CI: 0.6–0.9). Conclusions: Sociodemographic factors and challenges at birth (preterm, neonatal intensive care unit stays) are important risk factors for subsequent maltreatment-related hospitalization, with potential implications for prevention targeting.
- Child maltreatment