Maternal Intimate Partner Violence and Increased Asthma Incidence in Children

Buffering Effects of Supportive Caregiving

This article examines the relationship between asthma onset in children and maternal intimate partner violence. Stress and early life adversity are thought to influence children's susceptibility to asthma and other immune diseases.

The authors analyzed data from 3,116 children enrolled in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. Maternal intimate partner violence was assessed at the time of birth, after one year and after three years. Frequency of mother-child interaction was recorded, as well as educational and recreational resources for children. Mothers were asked whether their child had been diagnosed with asthma by age three.

Key Findings:

  • Nineteen percent of children in the study were diagnosed with asthma. Children whose mothers experienced chronic intimate partner violence were twice as likely to develop asthma as other children.
  • Children whose mothers experienced intimate partner violence were more likely to develop asthma if they had low levels of mother-child activities.
  • Of the children of mothers experiencing intimate partner violence, those with high levels of mother-child interactions and high numbers of educational and recreational resources were less likely to develop asthma.

Intimate partner violence is strongly associated with a higher risk of asthma for young children, suggesting that the physical health of children is influenced by the well-being of their mothers.