09 Feb Infantacide: Insight Into the Psychology of Mothers Who Kill Their Babies
Yesterday the RCMP made a grisly discovery: the body of a newborn baby was found in one of the public dumps of Vancouver. Today the police arrested the baby’s mother. An article was written about it in the Vancouver Sun.
The action of killing a baby under 12 months of age is called Infantacide. If the baby is under 24 hours old, it is called neonaticide. Why would a mother kill her baby? Usually mothers who kill their newborn babies have concealed or denied their pregnancy and failed to recive prenatal care. Most of these women are poor, undecuated, sometimes single and most of the times did not plan the pregnancy. Sometimes, when a psychiatric evaluation is conducted, the mother is diagnosed with acute psychosis or may have suffered from ongoing depression or manic-depressive illness, which was untreatreated or not treated appropriately. For others, psychosis, a state of being detached from reality and experiencing delusions or hallucinations, has a sudden, unpredictable onset. Pregnant women who conceal their pregnancy and do not seek prenatal care are at an increased risk for committing infantacide, although not all baby-murderers have the same profile.
The main thing to remember is that untreated depression or any other mental illness may result in infantacide. It is therefore very important to screen pregnant and postpartum women for depression and to follow the up very closely. It is also important that friends and family members of women who are pregnant and deny or reject their pregnancy, and women who seem to be significantly depressed alert their close family members and try to get the woman to see a doctor as soon as possible.