An exploration of maternal intimate partner violence experiences and infant general health and temperament

Jessica Griffin Burke, Li-Ching Lee, Patricia O'Campo
Maternal and Child Health Journal 2008, 12 (2): 172-9

OBJECTIVES: While the women's health consequences of intimate partner violence have received much research attention, less is known about how maternal abuse experiences affect infant health and well-being. Existing studies have also been unable to examine specific types of intimate partner violence such as psychological aggression, physical abuse, and sexual coercion. This secondary data analysis explored the prevalence, patterns, and types of intimate partner violence within a large cohort of mothers and explored the relationship between maternal intimate partner violence experiences and infant's general health and temperament at 1 year of age.

METHODS: Existing data were drawn from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study which collected data through surveys conducted shortly after the infant's birth (baseline) and at 1 year of age (follow-up). Records from 4,141 mothers recruited from 75 hospitals, in 20 cities, in the US were used. Bivariate and multivariate regression analyses were conducted.

RESULTS: Results show high rates of intimate partner violence. Maternal reports of any intimate partner violence at baseline or follow-up were both significantly associated with increased odds of less than excellent infant general health and difficult temperament. Independent examination of psychological, physical, and sexual abuse revealed differential relationships between the types of intimate partner violence and infant health outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS: Results from this study contribute to our understanding of the infant health threats associated with maternal intimate partner violence experiences. Additional research addressing the complex relationship between maternal abuse experiences and infant health and specific intervention implications is warranted.

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