Increased Child Abuse in Families with Twins

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Large families and inadequate spacing of children increase the risk for abuse. Twin births incorporate both of these factors, yet the association of twinning with subsequent abuse has not been explored. Forty-eight families with twins from St Vincent Hospital and Medical Center and Nashville General Hospital were compared with 124 single-birth families, matched for hospital of delivery, birth date, maternal age, race, and socioeconomic status. Three control (2.4%) and nine twin (18.6%) families were reported for maltreatment (P < .001). Mothers of twins experienced greater previous parity than did control subjects (P < .001). Twins also had significantly longer nursery stays (P < .001), lower birth weights (P < .001), and lower Apgar scores at one (P < .01) and five (P < .05) minutes. A regression analysis incorporating all of these variables, however, showed that twin status was most predictive of subsequent abuse.

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