Impacts of Domestic Violence on Child Growth and Nutrition: A Conceptual Review of the Pathways of Influence

Soc Sci Med. 2011 May;72(9):1534-54. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.02.042. Epub 2011 Apr 12.


Domestic violence against women is a global problem, and young children are disproportionate witnesses. Children's exposure to domestic violence (CEDV) predicts poorer health and development, but its effects on nutrition and growth are understudied. We propose a conceptual framework for the pathways by which domestic violence against mothers may impair child growth and nutrition, prenatally and during the first 36 months of life. We synthesize literatures from multiple disciplines and critically review the evidence for each pathway. Our review exposes gaps in knowledge and opportunities for research. The framework also identifies interim strategies to mitigate the effects of CEDV on child growth and nutrition. Given the global burden of child malnutrition and its long-term effects on human-capital formation, improving child growth and nutrition may be another reason to prevent domestic violence and its cascading after-effects.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child Nutrition Disorders*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Domestic Violence*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male