Objective: To assess whether different forms of family violence against women were associated with impaired size at birth and early childhood growth.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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%, ⩽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).
Conclusions: 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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Funding The MINIMat research study was funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), UK Medical Research Council, Swedish Research Council, Department for International Development (DfID), International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B), Global Health, Research Fund-Japan, Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI), Uppsala University and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval The study was reviewed and approved by the Ethical Review Committee at ICDDR, B, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Patient consent Obtained.
Contributors LÅP initiated and was one of the principal investigators of the main MINIMat intervention study in which this substudy was embedded. RTN was responsible for the design and supervision of the violence interviews. KÅ-M performed the data analyses and all authors participated in the interpretation of the results and writing up the manuscript. All three authors have contributed to and reviewed the final version of the manuscript. All three authors guarantee the integrity of the research.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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