Warning message

This content is filtered. APPPAH membership is required for full access to journal articles.
-A +A
Publication Date: 
March, 1999
Page Count: 
Starting Page: 

This paper explores the relationship of domestic violence toward a pregnant mother on the subsequent behavior of her child. Through examination of the literature on physical abuse during pregnancy a picture emerges of the fetal environment. Exposure to this environment was consistently shown to have detrimental effects in infancy and childhood and in later adult life particularly evidenced by emotional and behavioral disorders, and increased evidence of criminal and violent behavior and suicide.


Amaro, H., Fried, L. E., et al. (1990). Violence during Pregnancy and Substance Use. American Journal of Public Health, VoI 80(5), 575-579.

Barnett, B., Hanna, B., et al. (1983). Life Event Scales for Obstetric Groups. Journal of Psychomatic Research, Vol. 27(4), 313-320.

Batchelor, E. S., Dean, R. S., Gray, J. W., et al. (1991). Classification Rates and relative risk factos for perinatal events predicting emotional behavioral disorders in children. Pre and Perinatal Psychology Journal, Vol. 5(4), 327-341.

Berenson, A., Wiemann, C., et al. (1994). Perinatal morbidity associated with violence experienced by pregnant women. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 170(6), 1760-1769.

Blum, T. (1993). Prenatal Perception, Learning and Bonding. Leonardo Publishers, Hong Kong.

Broussard, E. (1979). Assessment of the adaptive potential of the mother-infant system: the neonatal perception inventories. Seminars in Perinatology, Vol. 3(1), 91-100.

Brown, Lou. (1997). Stop Domestic Violence: An Action Plan for Saving Lives. New York: St. Martin's Press. This description is based on Brown's accounts.

Bullock, L. F., McFarlane, J. (1989). The birth-weight battering connection. American Journal of Nursing, Sept 1989, 89, 1153-1155.

Bullock, L. F., McFarlane, J. (1989). The Prevalence and characteristics of battered women in a primary care setting. Nurse Practioner, June 1989, 47-55.

Campbell, J. C., Poland, M. L., Waller, J. B., et al. (1992). Correlates of Battering during Pregnancy. Research in Nursing and Health, Vol. 15, 219-226.

Carlson, D., & LaBarba, R. (1979). Maternal Emotionality during pregnancy and reproductive outcome: a review of the literature. International Journal of Behavioral Development (2), 343-376.

Davids, A., Holden, R., & Gray, G. (1963). Maternal Anxiety during pregnancy and adequacy of mother and child adjustment, eight months following childbirth. Child Development, Vol. 34, 993-1002.

Farber, E., Vaughn, B., & Egeland, B. (1981). The relationship of prenatal maternal anxiety to infant behavior and mother-infant interaction during the first six months of life. Early Human Development, Vol. 5, 267-277.

Ferreira, A. J. (1960). The pregnant woman's emotional attitude and its reflection on the newborn. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Vol. 30, 553-561.

Field, T., Sandburg, D., et al. (1985). Effects of ultrasound feedback on pregnancy anxiety, fetal activity, and neonatal outcome. Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 66(4), 525-527.

Garbarino, J., Guttmann, D., & Seeley, J. (1986). The Psychologically Battered Child. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

Gazmararian JA, Adams MM, et al. (1995) Relationship between pregnancy intendedness and physical violence in mothers of newborns. Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 85(6), 1031-38.

Gazmararian, J. A., Lazorick, S., et al. (1996). Prevalence of Violence Against Pregnant Women. JAMA, Vol. 275(24), 1915-1920.

Geilen, A. C., O'Campo, P., et al. (1994). Interpersonal Conflict and Physical Violence during the childbearing year. Social Science Medicine, Vol. 39(6), 781-787.

Gorsuch, R. L., & Key, M. K. (1974). Abnormalities of pregnancy as a function of anxiety and life stress. Psychosomatic Medicine, 36, 352-362.

Hollinger, P., Offer, D., et al. (1994). Suicide and Homicide Among Adolescents. Guilford Press: New York.

Helton, A., McFarlane, J., & Anderson, E. (1987). Battered and pregnant.-A prevalence study. American Journal of Public Health, 77, 1337-1339.

Istvan, J. (1986). Stress, anxiety, and birth outcomes: a critical review of the evidence. American Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 100(3), 331-348.

Jacobson, B., & Bygdeman, M. (1998). Obstetric care andproneness of offspring to suicide as adults: case control study. British Medical Journal, Vol. 317, 1346-1349.

Kandel, E., & Mednick, S. (1991). Perinatal complication predict violent offending. Criminology, Vol. 29(3), 519-5.

Manyonda, I. T., Slater, D., et al. (1998) A role for noradrenaline in pre-eclampsia: towards a unifying hypothesis for the pathophysiology. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 105, 641-648.

McGrath, M. E., Hogan, J. W., & Peipert, J. F. (1991). A Prevalence Survey of Abuse and Screening for Abuse in Urgent Care Patients. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 91(4), 511-514.

McDonald, R. L., & Parham, K. J. (1964). Relation of emotional changes during pregnancy to obstetric complications in unmarried primigravidas. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 90, 195-201.

McDonald, R. (1968). The role of emotional factors in obstetric complications: a review. Psychosomatic Medicine, 30, 222-237.

McFarlane, J., Wiist, W., & Watson, M. (1998). Characteristics of Sexual Abuse against Pregnant Hispanic Women by Their Male Intimates. Journal of Women's Health, Vol. 7(6), 1998, 739-745.

McFarlane, J., Parker, B., Soeken, K., & Bullock, L. (1992). Assessing for Abuse During Pregnancy. JAMA, 267(23), 3176-3178.

McLean, D. E., Hatfield-Timajchy, K., et al. (1993). Psychosocial measurement: implications for the study of preterm delivery in black women. American Journal of Preventitive Medicine, 1993:ps, 39-81.

Meyrs, R. E. (1975). Maternal Psychological Stress and Fetal Asphyxia: a study in the monkey. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 122, 47-59.

Nuckolls, K. B., Cassel, J., & Kaplan, B. H. (1972). Psychosocial assets, life crisis, and the prognosis of pregnancy. Americal Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 95, 431-441.

Parker, B., McFarlane, J., et al. (1993). Physical and Emotional Abuse in Pregnancy: A Comparison of Adult and Teenage Women. Nursing Research, Vol. 42(3), 173-178.

Petersen, R., Gazmararian, J., Spitz, A., et al. (1997). Violence and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes: A Review of the Literature and Directions for Future Research. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, Vol. 13(5), 366-373.

Paykel, E. S., Emms, E. M., et al. (1980). Life events and social support in puerperal depression. British Journal of Psychiatry, 136, 339-346.

Raine, A., Brennan, P., & Mednick, S. (1994). Birth complications combined with early maternal rejection at age 1 year predispose to violent crime at age 18 years. Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 51, 984-988.

Stewart, D. E., & Cecutti, A. (1993). Physical Abuse in Pregnancy. CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal, 149(9), 1257-1263.

U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1990). Healthy people 2000: National health promotion and disease prevention objectives (DHHS Publication PHS 91500212). Washington, DC.

Van Den Bergh, B. (1990). The influence of maternal emotions during pregnancy on fetal and neonatal behavior. Pre and Perinatal Psychology, 5(2), 119-130.

Webster, J., Chandler, J., & Battistutta, D. (1996). Pregnancy Outcomes and health care use: Effects of abuse. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, VoI 174(2), 760767.


Connolly, A., Katz, V., et al. (1997). Trauma in Pregnancy. American Journal of Perinatology, Vol. 14(6), 331-336.

Dutton, M. (1992). Empowering and Healing the Battered Woman. Springer Publishing Company, New York.

Evans, P. (1992). The Verbally Abusive Relationship. Bob Adams, Inc., Massachusetts.

Freeman, J. (1985). Prenatal and Perinatal Factors Associated with Brain Disorders. NIH 85-1149.

Nijhuis, J. G., Prechtel, H. F., et al. (1982). Are there Behavioral States in the Human Fetus. Early Human Development, Vol. 6, 177-195.

Raine, A. Venables, P. H., et al. (1990). Relationships between central and autonomie measures of arousal at age 15 years and criminality at age 24 years. Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 47, 1003-1007.

Walling, M. K., Reiter, R., et al. (1994). Abuse history and chronic pain in woman: Prevalences of sexual abuse and physical abuse. Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vol. 84(2), 193-199.

Widom, C. (1989). The cycle of violence. Science, Vol. 244, 160-166.

Amy L. Gilliland, B.A. and Thomas R. Verny, M.D., D Psych, FRCP(C)

Amy Gilliland, B.A. is a doula and associate of Alternative Birth Service, 1526 Vilas Ave., Madison, WI 53711-2226. Thomas R. Verny, MD, D Psych, FRCP(C) is the founder of APPPAH. He is considered one of the world's leading authorities on pre- and perinatal psychology. This paper is the result of research under his direction during the course of study in pre- and perinatal psychology he pioneered in conjunction with the Department of Human Development, Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology Program, St. Mary's University, Minneapolis. He may be contacted at 36 Madison Ave., Toronto, Ontario M5R251, Canada.