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Intimate Partner Violence and Food Insecurity Predict Early Behavior Problems Among South African Children over 5-years Post-Birth


Households experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) and food insecurity are at high risk of lifelong physical and behavioral difficulties. Longitudinal data from a perinatal home-visiting cluster-randomized controlled intervention trial in South Africa townships were used to examine the relationships between household settings and mothers' histories of risk and children's behavior problems at 3 and 5 years of age. IPV, food insecurity, maternal depressed mood, and geriatric pregnancy (at age of 35 or older) were consistently associated with children's internalizing and externalizing behavior problems. Aggressive behavior was more prevalent among 3- and 5-year olds boys, and was associated with maternal alcohol use. The effects of these factors on child behavior were more prominent than maternal HIV status. There is a continuing need to reduce IPV and household food insecurity, as well as supporting older, depressed, alcohol using mothers in order to address children's behavioral needs.

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