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November 2, 1963

Homicide by Starvation: The Nutritional Variant of the "Battered Child"

JAMA. 1963;186(5):458-460. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03710050032004

The deaths of five infants from starvation arising from neglect were investigated by the Cuyahoga County Coroner's Office. Autopsies disclosed no congenital or acquired disease which explained the marasmus which characterized all the children. Death was attributed to wanton disregard of the children's nutritional needs and successful criminal prosecution was carried out in four cases. The fifth is still pending before the grand jury. Fatal and nonfatal infant starvation of this nature which occurs in our enlightened, social welfare-conscious age can be prevented only by a heightened awareness of the possibility of its occurrence and by assiduous efforts which ensure that adults are not permitted to ignore requests and suggestions that the helpless infant receive the care, attention, and nutriment that he deserves and needs.