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Understanding the Intergenerational Transmission of Violence From Pregnancy Through the First Year of Life, Final Project Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
64 pages
This study, which is the basis of continuing longitudinal research on the intergenerational transmission of violence, examined the effects of domestic violence during pregnancy and the first year of life on infant well-being, including the infant's health, temperament, social development, and cognitive development.
Maternal physical health, maternal mental health, and parenting behavior were proposed as factors that mediated the relationship between domestic violence and infant outcomes. Data collection occurred in three phases: when the women were in their last trimester of pregnancy (T1), when the baby was 2 months old (T2), and when the infant was about 1 year old (T3). During T1 data collection, 207 women were recruited from 53 sites throughout a tri-county area. Participants' retention was 98 percent at T2 and 92 percent at T3. This report describes the participants, measures, and procedures at each of the three study phases. The study found that victims of domestic violence during pregnancy experienced later entrance into prenatal care, more prenatal health problems, greater likelihood of threats to miscarry, lower infant birth weight, and a greater likelihood of staying at the hospital due to health problems for the mother. Mothers who were victims of domestic violence during pregnancy also used significantly more chemical substances during pregnancy and used more health care services for their infants after birth than non-battered women. Only depression was identified as possibly mediating the effects of violence on prenatal health problems. Infants born to women abused during their pregnancy did not have more health problems after birth, but these women reported using more health care services for their infants. These findings suggest that criminal justice intervention should remove the perpetrator of domestic violence from the home even during the victim's pregnancy and in the early months of the child's life. 2 tables, 3 figures, and 100 references

Date Published: January 1, 2002