Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Predicting child abuse: signs of bonding failure in the maternity hospital.

Br Med J 1977; 1 doi: (Published 05 March 1977) Cite this as: Br Med J 1977;1:624
  1. M A Lynch,
  2. J Roberts


    Fifty children referred to the Park Hospital because of actual or threatened abuse were compared with 50 controls born at the same maternity hospital. Five factors were significantly more common in the abused group than among their controls: (a) mother aged under 20 at birth of first child, (b) evidence of emotional disturbance, (c) referral of family to hospital social worker, (d) baby's admission to special care baby unit, (e) recorded concern over the mother's ability to care for child. Thirty-five of the abused group had two or more of these factors compared with only five of the control group. As these data were collected from information recorded routinely at the maternity hospital, it is possible to identify most abusing families when the child is born. Such identification must lead to a comprehensive assessment of each case followed by constructive preventive action.