Prediction of Postpartum Weight in Low-Income Mexican-Origin Women From Childhood Experiences of Abuse and Family Conflict

Psychosom Med. Nov/Dec 2016;78(9):1104-1113. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000391.


Objectives: The postpartum period represents a crucial transition period in which weight gain or loss can affect lifetime obesity risk. This study examined the prevalence of obesity and the influence of childhood abuse and family conflict on postpartum weight among low-income Mexican-origin women. Depressive symptoms and partner support were evaluated as mediators.

Methods: At a prenatal assessment, low-income Mexican-origin women (N = 322; mean [SD] age, 27.8 [6.5]) reported on childhood abuse and family conflict. Weight was measured 7 times between 6 weeks and 2 years postpartum and calculated as body mass index. Regression and growth models were used to estimate the impact of childhood abuse, childhood family conflict, partner support, and depressive symptoms on weight and weight change.

Results: Higher family conflict predicted higher weight across the first (β = .12; p = .037) and second (β = .16; p = .012) postpartum years. Family conflict (β = .17; p = .018) and low partner support (β = -.16; p = .028) also predicted increasing weight in the first year. Partner support partially mediated the effect of childhood abuse on weight change in the first year (p = .031). Depressive symptomatology mediated the effects of childhood abuse and family conflict on weight status in the second year (abuse: p = .005; conflict: p = .023).

Conclusions: For low-income Mexican-origin women with a history of childhood abuse or high family conflict, depression and low partner support may be important targets for obesity prevention efforts in the postpartum period.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Body Weight*
  • Depression / ethnology*
  • Family Conflict / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mexican Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Obesity / ethnology*
  • Postpartum Period / ethnology*
  • Poverty / ethnology*
  • Prevalence
  • Social Support*
  • Spouses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult