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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 50 (2008) 5, 263 - 272

Review article

Filicide; psychiatric disorders in parents who murder their children

L.M. Dil, Th.A.H. Doreleijers, R.A. Schoevers

summary
background
In the Netherlands between 1992 and 2001 there were 70 reported cases of child murder by parents, the total number of victims being 86. The crime of filicide is rare but has enormous impact on society. It is not known whether there is a relation between filicide and psychiatric disorders.
aim To gain insight into the proportion and type of psychiatric disorders in perpetrators of filicide.
method
Literature search by means of PubMed, Embase Psychiatry and PsychInfo on the basis of the search terms filicide, neonaticide, infanticide, gender, psychiatric disorder.
results Perpetrators of filicide were found to have many types of psychiatric disorders. The most frequent types of diagnostic categories were affective disorders with or without psychotic features. The second most frequent type was schizophrenia. There was a considerable overlap between these disorders, personality disorders and symptoms of drug-dependence. Often perpetrators were also found to have lower-than-average intelligence.
conclusion A psychiatric disorder in one or both parents constitutes a major risk factor for child murder by parents. The identification of other risk factors and their possible interrelatedness is important for our understanding of these criminal acts, for the detection of warning signs and for the development of preventive strategies.

keywords filicide, gender, infanticide, neonaticide, psychiatric disorder