Domestic violence can traumatise children even before they are born: Abuse on pregnant women is linked to emotional distress in babies, study claims

  • Scientists have claimed domestic abuse can affect unborn children
  • The study suggests children in the first year of their life are influenced by emotional and behavioural trauma experienced by their mother
  • Symptoms include nightmares and having trouble experiencing enjoyment
  • The study included 182 mothers aged between 18 and 34
  • ‘I think these findings send a strong message that the violence is affecting the baby even before it born,’ said the researchers

When a woman is a victim of domestic violence while pregnant, it can leave a lasting effect on the unborn child, according to research.

A Michigan-led study is the first to link abuse of pregnant women with emotional and behavioural trauma symptoms in children within the first year of their life.

Symptoms experienced by the children include nightmares, startling easily, being bothered by loud noises and bright lights, avoiding physical contact and having trouble experiencing enjoyment.

Michigan State University scientists have claimed domestic abuse can affect unborn children. The study found a ‘surprisingly strong’ relationship between a mother’s prenatal abuse by a male partner and postnatal trauma symptoms in their children during the first year of their life

The research was carried out by scientists from Michigan State University.

‘For clinicians and mothers, knowing that the prenatal experience of their domestic violence can directly harm their babies may be a powerful motivator to help moms get out of these abusive situations,’ said Dr Alytia Levendosky, psychology professor and study co-author.



Domestic violence traumatising children before they are even born
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