1. Poorer socioemotional development is seen in children with mothers who experienced intimate partner violence

2. Lower socioemotional development scores were also seen in children whose mothers had mild to severe depressive symptoms 

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

Approximately 1 in 4 women have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence (IPV), with a higher prevalence in low- and middle-income countries. Those who experience IPV have higher reported rates of other problems such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and children living in the household of those experiencing IPV have higher risks of mortality and depression. It is known that maternal depressive symptoms are associated with lower levels of child socioemotional development, but few studies have investigated the association between IPV with socioemotional development. This cross-sectional study included 981 mothers and their children between the ages of 18 to 36 months. Mothers completed an IPV questionnaire, maternal depressive symptoms assessment and childcare questionnaire. Child socioemotional development was assessed using the Caregiver-Reported Early Childhood Development Instruments (CREDI). Exposure to IPV was assessed using an IPV module of a demographic and health survey, and the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) was used to assess maternal depressive symptoms. Finally, harsh child discipline was assessed using the United Nations Children’s Fund Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS). Multiple models were used to assess the data and it was found that a negative association was observed between physical IPV only and physical and sexual IPV with child socioemotional development scores (mean difference, −0.022; 95% CI, −0.045 to −0.006 and mean difference, −0.045; 95% CI, −0.077 to −0.013, respectively), but neither showed statistical significance once depressive symptoms were included. A negative association between depressive symptoms and child socioemotional development was seen, even after adjusting for IPV (mean difference, −0.073; 95% CI, −0.103 to −0.043). This study was limited in its population, and measurement tools. The study was also only limited to physical and sexual forms of IPV and lacked information on fathers or other caregivers for the children. However, it does show an association between maternal IPV, depressive symptoms and child socioemotional development, indicating future studies on possible interventions to aid children in their socioemotional development. 

Click to read the study in JAMA Network Open

Image: PD

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