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Neonaticide and infanticide: homicidal mothers, risk factors and preventive interventions

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Neonaticide, infanticide, risk factor, prevention, motherhood.

The primary victims of homicidal women are their last-born children. This qualitative review analyses the existing scientific knowledge of maternal neonaticide and infanticide pertaining to the psychological profile of the mothers, risk factors and preventive interventions. In addition, the current literature review follows through to specific recommendations for further study of the subject matter. To this end, bibliographical research of the international data banks of PsycINFO and PubMed was carried out using the key words neonaticide mother profile review, neonaticide risk factor review, neonaticide prevention review, infanticide mother profile review, infanticide risk factor review and infanticide prevention review. These research criteria identified 37 scientific articles. An analysis of these studies revealed that neonaticidal and infanticidal mothers are predominantly characterized by their young age and by social and relationship problems. Insofar as preventive measures are concerned, there is an emerging need to offer courses and services in family planning, sex education, and contraception to the general public. It would be expedient to supplement these initiatives with emergency telephone help-lines and the availability of support groups which, before and after the birth of the child, could assist women, couples and families in difficulty. Moreover, providers of health and social services need to be equipped with additional tools and training to facilitate the early identification of women at risk. Finally, shown to be particularly lacking is an existing body of knowledge on the subject of possible rehabilitative and therapeutic treatments that could be administered to women who commit crimes of neonaticide and infanticide. Further research should be carried out in this area.

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