Gender-based disparities in infant and child mortality based on maternal exposure to spousal violence: the heavy burden borne by Indian girls

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011 Jan;165(1):22-7. doi: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.261.


Objectives: To examine associations between intimate partner violence (IPV) against Indian women and risk of death among their infants and children, as well as related gender-based disparities.

Design: Analyses of nationally representative data to estimate adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs) and attributable risks for infant and child mortality based on child gender and on IPV against mothers.

Setting: India.

Participants: Women aged 15 to 49 years (n = 59,467) across all 29 Indian states participating in the Indian National Family Health Survey 3 provided information about 158,439 births and about infant and child mortality occurring during the 20 years before the survey.

Main outcome measures: Maternal IPV and infant and child (<5 years) mortality among boy vs girl children.

Results: Infant mortality was greater among infants whose mothers experienced IPV (79.2 of 1000 births) vs those whose mothers did not experience IPV (59.1 of 1000 births) (aHR, 1.09; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03-1.15); this effect was significant only for girls (1.15; 1.07-1.24; for boys, 1.04; 0.97-1.11). Child mortality was also greater among children whose mothers experienced IPV (103.6 of 1000 births) vs those whose mothers did not experience IPV (74.8 per 1000 births) (aHR, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.05-1.15); again, this effect was significant only for girls (1.14; 1.07-1.21; for boys, 1.05; 0.99-1.12). An estimated 58,021 infant girl deaths and 89,264 girl child deaths were related to spousal violence against wives annually, or approximately 1.2 million female infant deaths and 1.8 million girl deaths in India between December 1985 and August 2005.

Conclusion: Intimate partner violence against women should be considered an urgent priority within programs and policies aimed at maximizing survival of children in India, particularly those attempting to increase the survival of girls 5 years and younger.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child Mortality / ethnology
  • Child Mortality / trends*
  • Child Welfare*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Domestic Violence / prevention & control
  • Domestic Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality / ethnology
  • Infant Mortality / trends*
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure
  • Maternal Welfare*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pregnancy
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Spouse Abuse / prevention & control
  • Spouse Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult