Child Deaths from Neglect and Abuse with Marijuana


Arizona child Fatality Review Team
Twenty-Seventh Annual Report
November 15, 2020

In 88% of the 119 substance use related deaths (n=105), the decedent child was using or abusing alcohol or drugs which caused or contributed to their death (Figure 49). Marijuana and opiates were the most common substances which caused or contributed to the death of the child were the child was the user. In 76% of the 119 substance use related deaths (n=91), another individual (child or adult) was using or abusing alcohol or drugs which caused or contributed to the death of the child.

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Child Abuse Death Review Committee – Working to eliminate preventable child abuse and neglect deaths in Floria – Annual Report December 2020

Substance Abuse History of Caregivers and Supervisors

For those with a substance abuse history, most of all caregivers of children whose deaths were verified as maltreatment has a history of marijuana use (form a low of 52% for other causes to high of 100% for sleep-related deaths.) Similarly, high percentages of caregivers use of marijuana are observed for all primary causes of death for not substantiated and no indicators of maltreatment deaths; from a low of 0.0% for not substantiated inflicted trauma deaths to a high of 83.3% for not substantiated drowning deaths.

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Department of Family and Protective Services

Fiscal Year 2020
Child Maltreatment Fatalities
and Near Fatalities Annual Report
March 1, 2021

Substance Abuse by Caregiver as Risk Factor

Substance Use and Substance Abuse Disorder by Caregiver as Risk Factor
During the review of confirmed child fatalities due to abuse and neglect, cases were reviewed for a documented history of substance use (including inappropriate use of prescribed medications) and for active concerns for substance use at the time of the child fatality.

For FY2020, 180 of the 251 child fatalities caused by abuse or neglect involved a parent or
caregiver actively using a substance and/or under the influence of at least one substance that affected the ability to care for the child. In the tables and chart below, the substance abuse is described by type and if it was reported. While opioid use was identified in four child fatalities, marijuana was the substance most identified as an active substance in child abuse and neglect related fatalities and was identified as prior use in 107 of the cases. In 32 child fatalities, methamphetamines were being actively used by the caregiver.