National Center Quick-Look

Infant Child Abuse and Neglect Deaths

Collect: The National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention collects information on child abuse and neglect in the National Fatality Review Case Reporting System (CRS).

Data: From 2004 to 2017 there have been over 4,600 child abuse and neglect deaths among infants reviewed and entered in the CRS by participating teams.1

Learn: To see other Quick-Looks and learn more, visit the National Center’s website at

For every 10 abuse or neglect infant deaths, 6 were boys and 4 were girls:  57% male, 43% female.
77% of infants with health insurance information recorded had Medicaid
76% of infants were less than 6 months of age at the time of death

White 40%
Black 32%
Hispanic 20%
Other 8%

Investigation and Social Characteristics:
8 in 10 (75%) occurred in the infant’s home
7 in 10 (67%) had child protective services (CPS) action taken as a result of the infant’s death
2 in 10 (17%) had an open CPS case at time of death
3 in 10 (33%) had evidence of prior abuse identified during death investigation
3 in 10 (31%) had a history of child maltreatment prior to death
2 in 10 (16%) had siblings placed outside the home prior to infant’s death

Person Responsible:
Male:  6 in 10 Male (60%)
Mid-Twenties:  Average ate 26.6 years; median 25 years
Biological Parent:  8 in 10 Biological parent (84%)

Other Persons:
Mom’s partner (5%)
Other relative (3%)
Other person (7%)

Physical Abuse:
41% were due to physical abuse
32% of physical abuse were triggered by crying
70% of physical abuse included abusive head trauma

59% were due to neglect
54% of neglect deaths were due to injury/external causes
70% of the neglect deaths due to injury/external causes were due to asphyxia
16% of neglect deaths were failure to seek/follow medical treatment

Prevention Resources:

Community resources from CDC

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Technical Package from CDC

Tips sheets from Administration for Children & Families

Tip sheets from Children’s Alliance

Key Equity Terms & Concepts from Center for the Study of Social Policy

This quick look was made possible in part by Cooperative Agreement Numbers UG7MC28482 and UG7MC31831 from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) as part of an award totaling $1,099,997 annually with 0 percent financed with non-governmental sources. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

1 Includes data from deaths of infants who died by child abuse or neglect from 2004 to 2017, recorded in the CRS, and reviewed by fatality review teams. Some percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.These data represent a smaller percent of the cases entered into the CRS.

For more information about the data contained in this Quick-Look, please visit