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Maternal Hardships Impact Newborns' and Children's Health

Two studies trace impact on children of mothers' intimate partner violence and childhood hardships

WEDNESDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- Intimate partner violence suffered by mothers is linked to an increased obesity risk in young children, and childhood hardship is associated with women's future pregnancy outcomes, according to two studies in the June issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Renee Boynton-Jarrett, M.D., of Boston University, and colleagues followed a subsample of 1,595 young children and their parents in the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study. The parents were interviewed about their partner relationship at baseline and at 12, 36, and 60 months, and the children were monitored for changing body mass index. The researchers found that children whose mothers reported chronic intimate partner violence had higher risk for obesity at age 5 (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.80) compared to children from homes without intimate partner violence. The risk was highest for girls (aOR, 2.21).

In another study, Emily W. Harville, Ph.D., of Tulane University in New Orleans, and colleagues examined a cohort of 4,865 women in Great Britain for the effects of early-life hardship on eventual smoking during pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes. The researchers found a consistent association between all kinds of childhood hardships (financial, educational, unstable family, family violence, etc.) and smoking during pregnancy (OR, 2.02 for four or more hardships). Most hardships also were associated with increased risk for preterm birth or low birth weight infant, even after adjustment for smoking status and socioeconomic factors.

"Childhood hardships have an enduring impact on future pregnancy outcomes, in part through their association with smoking during pregnancy and adult socioeconomic position," Harville and colleagues write.

Abstract - Boynton-Jarrett
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Abstract - Harville
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