Introduction A community sample of pregnant women participated in a randomised controlled trial of prenatal care in Calgary, Alberta between 2001 and 2004. These women were followed-up when the child was 3 years old. Longitudinal data from these studies revealed that of children who were at high risk of developmental problems, 47% had mothers with a history of abuse. The primary objective was to test the hypothesis that maternal history of abuse was associated with child development at age three. Secondary objectives were (a) to examine this association according to type (physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse and neglect) and (b) to examine the prevalence of types of abuse.
Methods Questionnaire data from the initial study and the 3-year follow-up were used to determine the prevalence of the different types of abuse. Child development was measured using the Parents' Evaluation of Developmental Status instrument. χ2 analyses were performed to examine the relationship between these types of abuse and child development at age three.
Results Of the women who answered the questions regarding abuse, 34% reported a history of abuse. Of these women, 75% experienced emotional abuse, 49% experienced physical abuse, 42% experienced sexual abuse, 16% experienced neglect, and 14% experienced financial abuse. A statistically significant relationship was observed between physical abuse (p=0.04), emotional abuse (p=0.004) and risk of child development problems at age three.
Conclusion Maternal history of emotional and/or physical abuse potentially has a negative impact on child development at age three.
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