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Domestic violence associated with chronic malnutrition in women and children in India
Date:4/23/2008

Boston, MA-- In a new, large-scale study exploring the link between domestic violence and chronic malnutrition, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) have found that Indian mothers and children experiencing multiple incidents of domestic violence in the previous year are more likely to be anemic and underweight. The findings were published online March 26, 2008 in The American Journal of Epidemiology and will appear in an upcoming print issue of the journal.

"This is strong evidence that domestic violence is linked with malnutrition among both mothers and children. In India, the withholding of food is a documented form of abuse and is likely correlated with the perpetration of physical violence," said S V Subramanian, associate professor of Society, Human Development, and Health at HSPH, and co-author of the study.

The study population included 69,072 (aged 15-49 years) women and 14,552 children (12-35 months) from the Indian National Family Health Survey of 1998-99. The participants underwent face-to-face interviews by trained personnel, and the data collected included body measurements, blood samples, and information on women's and child's exposure to domestic violence in the previous 12 months.

The researchers found that women who reported more than one instance of domestic violence in the previous year had a 11% increased likelihood of having anemia and a 21% increased likelihood of being underweight, as compared to women with no such history. This difference was not explained by the mother's demographic information. The associations between domestic violence and nearly all nutritional outcomes were similar for children.

The data suggest a relation between domestic violence and malnutrition among women and children in India. The authors note that preventing domestic violence could be just as effective as a pharmaceutical approach in combating anemia among women. The authors believe that one possible
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Contact: Robin Herman
rherman@hsph.harvard.edu
617-432-4752
Harvard School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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