Research suggests exposure to violence during pregnancy increases risk of prematurity and low birthweight
Exposure to violence during the first trimester of pregnancy could lead to an increase in the risk of prematurity and low birthweight, according to research by our University and Queen Mary University of London.
In a recent paper published in the Journal of Development Economics, researchers Dr Martin Foureaux Koppensteiner (pictured) from the Department of Economics and Professor Marco Manacorda (Queen Mary University of London) focused on evidence from the exposure of day-to-day violence in Brazil by analysing the birth outcomes of children whose mothers were exposed to local violence, as measured by homicide rates in small Brazilian municipalities and the neighbourhoods of the city of Fortaleza.
The team estimated the effect of violence on birth outcomes by comparing mothers who were exposed to a homicide during pregnancy to otherwise similar mothers residing in the same area, who happened not to be exposed to homicides.
The study found that birthweight falls significantly among newborns exposed to a homicide during pregnancy and the number of children classified as being low birthweight increases – and that the effects are concentrated on the first trimester of pregnancy, which is consistent with claims that stress-induced events matter most when occurring early in pregnancy.
The study was supported through a grant by the Inter-American Development Bank under the aegis of the programme ‘The Cost of Crime in Latin America and the Caribbean’.