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Maternal Intimate Partner Violence: Relationships with Language and Neurological Development of Infants and Toddlers

Abstract

Objectives This longitudinal study examined the influence of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) experience of pregnant women participating in the Domestic Violence Enhanced Home Visitation Program on the language and neurological development of infants and toddlers. Methods A total of 210 infants and toddlers born to women reporting low, moderate, and high levels of IPV were included in the analysis. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the bivariate association between maternal IPV and risk of language and neurological delay of infants and toddlers and between covariates and language and neurological delay. Generalized estimating equation models with logit link was used to predict the risk of language and neurological delay of infants and toddlers as a result of maternal IPV. Results Infants and toddlers born to women exposed to moderate levels of IPV had increased odds of language delay compared to infants and toddlers of women who experienced low levels of violence (OR 5.31, 95 % CI 2.94, 9.50, p < 0.001). Infants and toddlers born to women who experienced moderate and high levels of IPV were at higher risk of neurological delay respectively, compared to infants and toddlers of women who experienced low levels of IPV (OR 5.42, 95 % CI 2.99, 9.82, p < 0.001 and OR 2.57, 95 % CI 1.11, 5.61, p = 0.026). Conclusions for Practice Maternal IPV is associated with increased risk of language and neurological delay of infants and toddlers. These findings have implications for health care for women and infants exposed to IPV. Clinicians including pediatricians working with pregnant women should screen for IPV throughout pregnancy to identify women and children at risk. Interventions to reduce maternal IPV and early intervention services for infants and toddlers exposed to IPV are necessary for optimal maternal and child health.

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Acknowledgments

This research paper is a product of the lead author’s doctoral dissertation. The authors wish to acknowledge the National Institutes of Health–National Institute of Nursing Research for funding the DOVE study (NIH/NINR, R01 NR009093), and the staff and faculty of Morgan State University School of Community Health and Policy for their unwavering support.

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Correspondence to Ifeyinwa E. Udo.

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Udo, I.E., Sharps, P., Bronner, Y. et al. Maternal Intimate Partner Violence: Relationships with Language and Neurological Development of Infants and Toddlers. Matern Child Health J 20, 1424–1431 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-016-1940-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-016-1940-1

Keywords

  • IPV
  • Language development
  • Neurological development
  • Pregnancy
  • Infants and toddlers