Intimate Partner Violence and Failure to Thrive in Children Less than Two Years of Age

Kimeto, Pamela, Nursing - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Laughon, Kathryn, School of Nursing, University of Virginia

Background: An increasing body of evidence shows links between women’s Intimate Partner Violence victimization (IPV) and poor child health outcomes. Few studies in the U.S have examined the relationship between IPV and its impact on the physical growth of children less than two years of age. Identifying growth failures in children exposed to violence and managing them promptly is crucial during this age because any growth deviation from the normal may pose a risk of permanent mental, emotional or physical delays.
Methods: This retrospective longitudinal cohort study utilized existing data Nursing Smoking Cessation Intervention during pregnancy (Baby BEEP) and Nursing support Better infant outcomes in violent homes (BBK) to assess for growth in children whose mothers were exposed to violence prenatally and those not exposed.
Results: No significant difference was seen in weight and height of children exposed to violence and those not exposed. There was also no difference in maternal characteristics such as age, parity, relationship status, ethnicity, prenatal depression status, postnatal violence and depression in those exposed to violence and those not exposed. Depression in the mother whether during pregnancy, after birth or both was associated with greater weight gain in infants, regardless of abuse status. Children perceived to be difficult by their parents and exposed to prenatal violence did have lower weight gain than their counterparts. Overall maternal exposure to pre and postnatal depression, breastfeeding status and being a second child affected boys more than it did girls in relation to weight gain
Conclusion: Findings from this study make an important contribution to the literature on the impact of IPV on child growth for low-income rural women who are smokers in the United States. Although some of the findings were not statistically significant, there are interesting trends that can guide future studies. There is a need to conduct longitudinal studies in more diverse samples to better understand the true impact of IPV on children’s growth in the United States.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Intimate Partner Violence, Weight-for-height Z-scores, Height-for-age Z-scores
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