Intimate partner violence and growth outcomes through infancy: A longitudinal investigation of multiple mediators in a South African birth cohort

Whitney Barnett, Raymond Nhapi, Heather J. Zar, Sarah L. Halligan, Jennifer Pellowski, Kirsten A. Donald, Dan J. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Intimate partner violence (IPV) has been linked to poor fetal and infant growth. However, factors underlying this relationship are not well understood, particularly in the postnatal time period. In a South African cohort, we investigated (1) associations between IPV in pregnancy and growth at birth as well as postnatal IPV and child growth at 12 months and (2) whether maternal depression, tobacco or alcohol use or infant hospitalizations mediated IPV-growth relationships. Mothers were enrolled in pregnancy. Maternal IPV was measured during pregnancy and 10 weeks postpartum; depression, alcohol and tobacco use were measured during pregnancy and at 6 months postpartum. Child weight and length were measured at birth and 12 months and converted to z-scores for analysis. Linear regression and structural equation models investigated interrelationships between IPV and potential mediators of IPV-growth relationships. At birth, among 1,111 mother–infant pairs, maternal emotional and physical IPV were associated with reduced weight-for-age z-scores (WFAZ). Only physical IPV was associated with length-for-age z-scores (LFAZ) at birth. Antenatal maternal alcohol and tobacco use mediated IPV-growth relationships at birth. Postnatally, among 783 mother–infant pairs, emotional and physical IPV were associated with reduced WFAZ at 12 months. Only emotional IPV was associated with LFAZ at 12 months. Maternal tobacco use was a mediator postnatally. Findings highlight the role of physical and emotional IPV as risk factors for compromised fetal and infant growth. Findings underscore the importance of programmes to address interrelated risk factors for compromised infant growth, specifically IPV and substance use, which are prevalent in high-risk settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13281
JournalMaternal & Child Nutrition
Volume18
Issue number1
Early online date3 Nov 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2022

Keywords

  • alcohol
  • infant growth
  • intimate partner violence
  • LMIC
  • mediation
  • South Africa
  • tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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