Objective: To assess whether different forms of family violence against women were associated with impaired size at birth and early childhood growth.
Methods: A sub-study 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 level of controlling behaviour in family.
Results: Fifty percent of all women reported lifetime experience of some form of family violence.
Mean birth-weight was 2701g, 30% was low birth-weight (< 2500g), mean birth-length was 47.8 cm, (17.5% <-2SD) and at 24 months of age 37% was 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 change in weight and height SD score from birth to 24 months of age (P< 0.05, adjusted for potential confounders).
Conclusions: Violence against women was associated with increased risk of foetal and early childhood growth impairment, adding to the multitude of proven and plausible health consequences caused by this problem.