Original contribution

Archives of Women’s Mental Health

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 191-199

First online:

Impact of domestic violence and drug abuse in pregnancy on maternal attachment and infant temperament in teenage mothers in the setting of best clinical practice

  • J. A. QuinlivanAffiliated withUniversity Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The University of Melbourne
  • , S. F. EvansAffiliated withKing Edward Memorial Hospital for Women

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


We examined whether the prenatal detection of family violence and initiation of a comprehensive prenatal individualised care program could ameliorate the impact of family violence on maternal attachment to her infant at 6-months of age. An assessment of domestic violence was established for each subject at the 1st antenatal visit and women were classified as being exposed to domestic violence in pregnancy (EDV) or as being not exposed to domestic violence. Outcomes were determined 6 months postpartum. Of 173 consecutive women who met the eligibility criteria, consent was obtained from 150 (87% response). Women who had been subjected to domestic violence showed reduced overall attachment scores to their infants. Following multivariate analysis, drug use in pregnancy and domestic violence showed a significant independent effect on maternal attachment. Drug abuse and domestic violence were also associated with an increase in the easy-difficult scale of infant temperament. Thus, despite excellence in prenatal care, drug abuse and domestic violence were associated with poorer maternal attachment and assessment of infant temperament, suggesting that additional interventions are still required.

Keywords: Domestic violence; drug abuse; mother to child attachment; toddler temperament; prospective study; pregnancy.