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Women Abused During Childhood at Increased Risk for Having Low Birthweight Babies

Posted on March 31, 2011

A recent study from the University of Washington has found that emotional, sexual, and physical abuse and poverty before age 10 leads to an increased risk of having a low birth weight baby. The study also found links between alcohol and drug use during adolescence and pregnancy and low birth weight.

Children are considered low birth weight if they are born weighing less than 2500 grams. Low birth weight has been linked with a variety of negative impacts to health and development including cerebral palsy, increased rates of conduct disorders, obesity, and increased risk of death before age one.

The study is the first to find a link between maternal childhood maltreatment and low birth weight. The authors also found the childhood maltreatment increased risk of substance abuse during high school and that women who used drugs during high school were more likely to smoke and drink alcohol during later pregnancies. The study is part of a recent trend in looking at the effects of early life experiences on later health outcomes.

Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study various issues related to low birth weight and child maltreatment.

Read a news article about the study.

Page last modified: March 21, 2014