HealthDay News — Violence and stress in the home can contribute to delays in a child’s developmental milestones during the first 72 months of life, researchers have found.

Children exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV) and parental psychological distress (PPD) were about twice as likely to fail to reach language (adjusted odds ratio 2.1, 95% CI: 1.3–3.3) or personal-social (aOR 1.9, 95% CI: 1.2–2.9) milestones, and three times as likely to fail on a gross motor skill (aOR 3.0, 95% CI: 1.8–5.0) milestones than those who were not.

“Screening children for IPV and PPD helps identify those at risk for poor developmental outcomes who may benefit from early intervention,” Amy Lewis Gilbert, JD, MPH, from the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, and colleagues reported in Pediatrics.

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They conducted a cross-sectional analysis in a large cohort of 16,595 children to examine the relationship between parental report of IPV and/or PPD and the attainment of developmental milestones within the first 72 months of life. A total of 88 children had parents who reported both IPV and PPD, 331 had parents who reported IPV only and 1,920 had parents who reported PPD only.

The likelihood of failing at least one milestone across language, personal-social, and gross motor domains was significantly increased for children of parents reporting both IPV and PPD (aORs 2.1, 1.9, and 3.0, respectively), the researchers found.

For those reporting IPV-only, there were significant associations for language, personal-social, and fine motor-adaptive domains (aORs, 1.4, 1.7 and 1.7, respectively). Among children whose parents reported PPD-only, there were significant associations for delays in language, personal-social, gross motor and fine-motor adaptive domains (aORs, 1.5, 1.6, 1.6 and 1.6, respectively).

The findings remained significant after adjusting for parental report of child abuse concern and sociodemographic characteristics.


  1. Gilbert JL et al. Pediatrics. 2013; doi:10.1542/peds.2013-1020.