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American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology:
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181fc3593
Original Articles

A 10-Year Epidemiologic Review of Homicide Cases in Children Younger Than 5 Years in Fulton County, Ga: 1996-2005

Fajardo, Geroncio Cagigas MD, MBA, MS(Bio), MS(Epi)*†; Hanzlick, Randy L. MD*

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Abstract

The primary purpose of this study was to present the epidemiologic review of homicide deaths certified by the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office from January 1, 1996 through December 31, 2005 in children younger than 5 years. The secondary purpose of this study was to determine if the observed cases of homicide deaths among children younger than 5 years in Fulton County are significantly greater than expected when compared with those in the State of Georgia. For purposes of this study, only homicide deaths of Fulton County residents were included. The authors reviewed all homicide cases in children younger than 5 years: infancy (<1 year) and early childhood (1-4 years). χ2 values were calculated using Epi Info (version 3.4.1; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga) to determine differences in homicide among age group, race, and sex variables. In addition, a χ2 test at the α level of 0.05 was done to determine if the observed cases of homicide deaths among children younger than 5 years in Fulton County were significantly greater than expected when compared with those in the State of Georgia. There were 49 homicide cases in children younger than 5 years identified over this 10-year period. The yearly distribution of these 49 homicide deaths ranged from 1 death in 2003 to 9 deaths in 2004. Most of the patients were male (n = 29, 59.2%) and black (n = 44, 89.8%). Between infancy and early childhood cases, homicide victims were nearly equally divided between the 2 groups. However, χ2 values showed that decedents younger than 5 years are more likely to have died of homicide compared with decedents 5 years or older (odds ratio [OR], 1.74; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.29-2.35). Black decedents younger than 5 years are more likely to have died of homicide compared with other races (OR, 3.21; 95% CI, 1.21-9.28). Male and female decedents are equally at risk to have died of homicide (OR, 1.14; 95% CI, 0.61-2.11). The authors also determined that the total homicide risk for children younger than 5 years in Fulton County during the years 1996 to 2005, at the α level of 0.05, is 1.8 relative to the state. Brain injury was the primary cause of death in most cases (n = 23, 46.9%). Although this study was unable to collect information on the victim's suspect/offender characteristics, it was noted that only 37% of the cases (n = 18) went to trial. Most homicide investigations were under the Atlanta police jurisdiction (n = 28, 57.1%). Results from this study may assist local and state government officials in recognizing the epidemiologic characteristics of children at risk to help them allocate limited resources efficiently and implement preventive measures to at-risk populations effectively.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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