Special care needs and risk for child maltreatment reports among babies that graduated from the Neonatal Intensive Care

Raja Nandyal, Arthur Owora, Elizabeth Risch, David Bard, Barbara Bonner, Mark Chaffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Newborns discharged from intensive care are at elevated risk for child welfare reports, especially for child neglect. This study investigates the role of caregiving burden as a risk predictor among the NICU graduate population. Discharge data were captured for 2,463 infants graduating from a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) during 2005-2008, then linked to child welfare reports at a median 3.2 year follow-up. Survival analyses were used to examine child welfare report outcomes conditional on caregiving burden and its moderating relationships with other family risk factors. Caregiving burden was associated primarily with an increased risk of child welfare reporting during the first few months to first year of life, after which risk was similar to NICU graduates without caregiving burden. Caregiving burden effects were potentiated by having three or more siblings in the family. A history of prior child welfare reports predicted very high risk, regardless of caregiving burden. Young maternal age increased risk. The findings suggest that the immediate months after NICU discharge may be an important window of child neglect prevention opportunity among newborns with special caregiving needs. This may be a key time to provide caregiver support and monitoring, particularly when caregivers have multiple children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1114-1121
Number of pages8
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Caregiving burden
  • Child maltreatment
  • NICU
  • Risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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