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Denial of reproductive potential: a predictor of unperceived pregnancy in an Austrian neonaticide sample

Klier, Claudia M.; Ina, Bozic; Kuipers, Yvonne; Amon, Sabine


Claudia M. Klier

Bozic Ina

Sabine Amon


Purpose: This study aims to describe the phenomenon of unperceived pregnancy followed by neonaticide with a focus on the lack of awareness of reproductive potential in an Austrian sample.

Methods: An explorative comparative study of neonaticide cases with single and repeat perpetrators was conducted using nationwide register-based data from 1995 to 2017. A total number of 55 cases out of 66 were included in the analysis. A standardized coding sheet was used and calculations were performed.

Results: 48 women gave birth to 101 children, of which 55 were killed, 23 children lived out of home care and 23 lived with the perpetrator We found a higher fertility rate in both neonaticide perpetrators in the single (1,9) and the repeat group (4,25) in comparison to the general population (1,4). The use of contraception was only 31% among neonaticide perpetrators, deviating substantially from the general Austrian population age group (16-29yrs) which used contraception in 91%. The neonaticide perpetrators used an effective contraception method (pearl-index<4) in only 2%, whereas 20% of the general population did so. The number of unperceived pregnancies was high in both groups (50/55) 91%.

Conclusion: Future case reports and forensic evaluations should take reproductive behavior into account, as it may offer valuable insights into the events leading up to neonaticide. Our findings suggest that denial of reproductive potential often precedes unperceived pregnancies. In the Austrian cohort, women who experienced unperceived pregnancies resulting in unassisted births and subsequent neonaticide showed a low prevalence of contraceptive use. This is particularly noteworthy given that the primary motive for neonaticide is unwanted pregnancy.


Klier, C. M., Ina, B., Kuipers, Y., & Amon, S. (online). Denial of reproductive potential: a predictor of unperceived pregnancy in an Austrian neonaticide sample. Archives of Women's Mental Health,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 7, 2024
Online Publication Date Jun 19, 2024
Deposit Date Jun 20, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jun 20, 2024
Journal Archives of Women's Mental Health
Print ISSN 1434-1816
Electronic ISSN 1435-1102
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords s Unperceived pregnancy · Neonaticide · Denial of fertility · Denial of pregnancy · Perinatal psychiatry · Contraception · Unassisted birth
This output contributes to the following UN Sustainable Development Goals:

SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-Being

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

SDG 5 - Gender Equality

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls


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