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When Parents Fight, Children Often End Up With Scars

Witnessing violent relationship may lead to poor mental health, researchers say

THURSDAY, June 4 (HealthDay News) --Adults who witnessed parental violence while growing up are more likely to suffer mental health problems, according to researchers who studied 3,023 adults in Paris.

The study looked at the participants' current depression, as well as their experiences with violence against children, intimate partner violence, lifetime suicide attempts and alcohol dependence. The participants were also asked about childhood experiences with their parents, and 16 percent said they'd witnessed violence between their parents, according to the report published online recently in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The researchers, Christelle Roustit of INSERM in Paris and colleagues, found that violence between parents was far more common in certain circumstances. It was up to eight times more likely among parents who were alcoholics, and also more common in families with financial problems, housing problems, unemployment or when parents had serious diseases, they reported.

After they adjusted for other factors, the researchers concluded that people who'd been exposed to interparental violence were 1.4 times more likely to have depression, more than three times more likely to be involved in intimate partner violence, almost five times more likely to mistreat their children, and 1.75 times more likely to have alcohol dependence.

"Intensification of prevention of and screening for domestic violence, including interparental violence, is a public health issue for the well-being of future generations," Roustit and colleagues concluded.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about domestic violence.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, news release, May 27, 2009

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