203143 Missing data on infant homicide - a multi-state problem

Monday, November 9, 2009

Michael Durfee, MD , ICAN National Center on Child Fatality Review, La Canada, CA
Los Angeles County Coroner infant homicide data for 1999 2005 was almost 50% higher than the state/national data for the county. Similar loss of infant homicide cases appears in four of five other California counties and three states that supplied coroner data. The LA County data loss occurred with infants (0 years ). Older child Coroner/state matching counts (ages 1-17) were generally the same or more or less by 1 or 2 cases. The Coroner and Child Death Review team could explain about 1/3 of the missing infant homicides. Some were stillborn and some had changed from homicide in pending to final designation. Residence did not explain the loss with most neighboring counties also losing cases. A case specific record match of LA County Coroner to state case match was made for 24 infant homicide cases in 2001. Separate record matches at the state found 12, 10 and 19 cases. All matches missed homicide cases including cases with criminal court convictions and confessions to validate the designation homicide. Jane Doe twin neonates were suggested to be fetal death but the mother went to prison for 15 years. Infant cases are problematic (e.g., co-sleeping that may be SIDS/natural, accidental rollover, or intentional deaths.) These cases may take months before final designation. The coroner may not send the final designation or the cases may arrive after the state annual count is closed. Multiple national/federal experts have assisted in this unfunded essentially volunteer study that merits more official status.

Learning Objectives:
I have 31 years working with fatal child abuse including data studies. Infants are the most common age.

Keywords: Child Abuse, Death

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: 31 years experience with fatal child abuse including use of data
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.