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Criminal outcomes among infants placed in out-of-home care: A longitudinal nationwide cohort study.

BACKGROUND: Infant placements into out-of-home care have garnered increased research and societal attention, yet the long-term outcomes of this vulnerable group are virtually unknown.

OBJECTIVE: This study aims to examine the association between infant placement and criminal offences across the life course, contrasting with general population peers and children placed at later developmental periods.

PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: The study includes 622,940 individuals born in Sweden between 1975 and 1981, among whom around 0.2 % (n = 1524) were taken into care during infancy (<12 months).

METHODS: Utilizing Swedish longitudinal population-based register data, sex-stratified hurdle regression analyses, adjusted for individual and family background characteristics, were conducted to investigate the risk and rates of criminal offences ages 15-38.

RESULTS: Infants placed in care exhibited higher risks of any criminal offence compared to the general population (men: RR = 1.32, p < 0.001, women RR = 1.47, p < 0.001), but lower risks compared to children placed at later ages. Incidence-adjusted rates of offences were also higher among infants compared to their general population peers (men: IRR = 2.54, p < 0.001, women: IRR = 2.77, p < 0.001), with differences to other care groups being less pronounced.

CONCLUSIONS: Infant placement in care is associated with an increased risk of criminal activity over the life course.

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