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Mothers abused during childhood at risk for having low birth weight babies
Date:3/29/2011

ive development and reduce drug use, delinquency and risky sexual behaviors among adolescents and young adults.

Looking at mothers who had children after age 18, Gavin's analysis allowed her to see the extent to which mothers abused emotionally, sexually and physically before age 10 affected the birth weights of their children. She also considered the effects of childhood poverty and substance use including binge drinking, smoking cigarettes and marijuana and other drug use during high school and pregnancy.

Gavin found that maltreatment during childhood was a strong predictor of substance use during high school. And, most significantly, women who abused drugs during high school were more likely to smoke and drink alcohol during later pregnancies.

"We know that cigarette smoking and heavy alcohol use during pregnancy lead to low birth weights, and we know to warn expecting mothers about those risks," Gavin said. "Now, the results of this study show that women maltreated during childhood are more likely to use substances during pregnancy, which increases their risk of delivering low birth weight infants."

Gavin recommends that obstetric practitioners add universal screening of prospective mothers for childhood maltreatment to identify and provide services to women at risk for prenatal substance use.

"What is important about this study is that it was the mother's experience of poverty and maltreatment in childhood, not her poverty or depression or obesity in adulthood, that contributed to her infant's low birth weight," Gavin said.


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Contact: Molly McElroy
mollywmc@uw.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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