INTRODUCTION: Cases of child abuse and neglect have increased in Mexico, but few studies have been carried out to examine the factors associated with this health problem.
OBJECTIVE: With this study we sought to identify social factors associated with child abuse and neglect and to construct a predictor model of child maltreatment in children younger than 7 years in Guadalajara, Mexico.
METHODS: A case-control study was designed; cases were selected randomly from the register of maltreated children younger than 7 years by the DIF (the public institution that provides assistance to families in Mexico) during 2002 (N = 205). Controls were chosen randomly from the register of children assisted in other DIF programs in 2002 (N = 379). A multivariate logistic regression model was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
RESULTS: In the multivariate analysis, 6 factors were statistically associated with child maltreatment: maternal drug addiction (OR: 15.3 [95% CI: 1.8–127.6]), mother without steady partner (OR: 3.0 [95% CI: 1.9–4.6]), bad family relationships (OR: 1.3 [95% CI: 1.1–4.2]), the child has “tantrums” (OR: 1.8 [95% CI: 1.2–2.8]), the child's behavior irritates the parents (OR: 1.5 [95% CI: 1.1–2.1]), and overcrowding (OR: 1.5 [95% CI: 1.1–2.2]).
CONCLUSIONS: According to the constructed model, if a child were simultaneously exposed to all these risk factors, he or she would have a very high probability of being a maltreated child. The findings show that public health institutions can play an important role in designing timely intervention strategies directed at avoiding or reducing the cases of child abuse and neglect.
Submitted by Maria Guadalupe Vega-Lopez
- Copyright © 2008 by the American Academy of Pediatrics