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Arch Dis Child. 2009 Oct;94(10):775-9. doi: 10.1136/adc.2008.144444. Epub 2009 Feb 17.

Violence against women and the risk of fetal and early childhood growth impairment: a cohort study in rural Bangladesh.

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  • 1International Maternal and Child Health (IMCH), Department of Women's and Children's Health, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.



To assess whether different forms of family violence against women were associated with impaired size at birth and early childhood growth.


A substudy embedded into a community-based food and micronutrient supplementation trial (MINIMat) of pregnant women in rural Bangladesh included a 2-year follow-up of the 3164 live-born children of participating women. Anthropometric data were collected from birth up to 24 months of age, and converted to WHO growth standard SD scores. Size at birth and early childhood growth were assessed in relation to women's exposure to physical, sexual and emotional violence and the level of controlling behaviour in the family.


Fifty per cent of all women reported a lifetime experience of some form of family violence. The mean birth weight was 2701 g, 30% were low birth weight (<2500 g), mean birth length was 47.8 cm (17.5%, <or=2 SD) and at 24 months of age 37% were underweight and 50% of the children were stunted. Exposure to any form of violence was negatively associated with weight and length at birth and weight-for-age and height-for-age SD scores at 24 months of age, as well as a change in weight and height SD score from birth to 24 months of age (p<0.05, adjusted for potential confounders).


Violence against women was associated with an increased risk of fetal and early childhood growth impairment, adding to the multitude of confirmed and plausible health consequences caused by this problem.

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