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Intelligence in offspring born to women exposed to intimate partner violence: a population-based cohort study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Kathryn M Abel, Hein Heuvelman, Dheeraj Rai, Nicholas J Timpson, Jane Sarginson, Rebekah Shallcross, Heather Mitchell, Holly Hope, Richard Emsley

Original languageEnglish
Article number108
Pages (from-to)107
JournalWellcome Open Research
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright: © 2019 Abel KM et al.

King's Authors


Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a risk factor for developmental problems in offspring. Despite a high prevalence of IPV in the UK and elsewhere, the longer-term outcomes of offspring born to exposed mothers remain under-researched. Methods: Population-based cohort study. We assessed IPV prevalence by type and timing for 3,153 mother-child pairs with complete data within our study population and examined associations between IPV and offspring IQ. We used multiple-imputation to evaluate bias due to our exclusion of observations with missing covariate data. Results: Nearly one in five mothers reported IPV during the study period, with 17.6% reporting emotional violence and 6.8% reporting physical violence. Taking into account potential confounders, the IQ scores of children born to mothers exposed to physical violence remained lower than those of maternally unexposed children (full-scale IQ = -2.8 points [95%CI -4.9 to -0.7], verbal IQ = -2.2 [95%CI -4.4 to -0.1], performance IQ = -2.7 [95%CI -5.0 to -0.5]) and odds of below-average intelligence (IQ<90) remained increased for full-scale (OR 1.48 [95%CI 1.03 to 2.14] and performance IQ (OR 1.48 [95%CI 1.08 to 2.04]) but not verbal IQ (OR 1.06 [95%CI 0.69 to 1.64]). Most physical violence occurred postnatally, and relative odds were most substantial when mothers were exposed to violence across pre-/perinatal and postnatal study periods (OR performance IQ<90 = 2.97 [95%CI 1.30 to 6.82]). Conclusions: Maternal exposure to physical IPV is associated with lower offspring IQ at age 8. Associations persisted after adjusting for potential confounders and were driven by violence occurring postnatally.

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