Newborns and infants, particularly within the least advantaged socio-economic strata, are at particular risk of developmental deficit or disability, from injury, disease, malnutrition and lack of access to health care during their earliest life.
A 1982 study of violent and suspicious childhood deaths suggests that two to three children under 6 years of age are dying each week in New York City as a result of parental abuse or chronic neglect and the failure of private and city agencies to intervene. City officials acknowledged that confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect in the city had soared 140% in the last decade to more than 20,000 children, of whom 112 died of parental abuse or neglect. The report said most of the deaths occurred in impoverished families with high rates of criminal activity and domestic violence and with one or both parents affected by drugs, alcohol, mental illness or retardation. Nearly all the families had extensive contacts with government and private agencies responsible for detecting, reporting and helping to prevent the abuse and neglect of children.