Violence against mothers linked to 1.8 million female infant and child deaths in India

Jan 05, 2011

The deaths of 1.8 million female infants and children in India over the past 20 years are related to domestic violence against their mothers, according to a new study led by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). In their examination of over 158,000 births occurring between 1985 and 2005, the researchers found that husbands' violence against wives increased the risk of death among female children, but not male children, in both the first year and the first five years of life.

"Being born a girl into a family in India in which your mother is abused makes it significantly less likely that you will survive early childhood. Shockingly, this violence does not pose a threat to your life if you are lucky enough to be born a boy," said lead author Jay Silverman, associate professor of society, human development, and health at HSPH.

The authors attribute this disparity to lower investment in girl in such areas as nutrition, immunization and care for major causes of infant and child death (e.g., diarrhea and respiratory infections). This neglect of girl infants and children is likely to be most pronounced in families in which the status of women is the lowest, that is, in those families in which women are physically abused by their husbands. Based on the study findings, they urge that violence against women be considered a critical priority within programs and policies to improve child survival, particularly those working to increase the survival of girls.

The article appeared online January 4, 2011 in the journal , and will appear in the January print edition.

Currently, 2.1 million children die in India each year, and the nation is not on-track to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of a two-thirds reduction in from 1990 levels by 2015. The authors assert that violence against mothers and the associated gender-based mistreatment of female infants and children may represent major barriers preventing India from reaching this goal. "Family violence against women in India must be vigorously challenged, given that even a very small reduction in this abuse may lead to the saving of tens of thousands of lives of girl infants and children," said Silverman.

Explore further: Oil-swishing craze: Snake oil or all-purpose remedy?

More information: "Gender-Based Disparities in Infant and Child Mortality Based on Maternal Exposure to Spousal Violence," Jay G. Silverman, Michele R. Decker, Debbie M. Cheng, Kathleen Wirth, Niranjan Saggurti, Heather L. McCauley, Kathryn L. Falb, Balaiah Donta, Anita Raj, Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med, vol. 165, no. 1, online Jan. 4, 2011.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Violence against women impairs children's health

Sep 11, 2008

Violence against women in a family also has serious consequences for the children's growth, health, and survival. Kajsa Åsling Monemi from Uppsala University has studied women and their children in Bangladesh and Nicaragua ...

Recommended for you

AMA examines economic impact of physicians

1 hour ago

(HealthDay)—Physicians who mainly engage in patient care contribute a total of $1.6 trillion in economic output, according to the American Medical Association (AMA)'s Economic Impact Study.

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

1 hour ago

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

2 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

AMA examines economic impact of physicians

(HealthDay)—Physicians who mainly engage in patient care contribute a total of $1.6 trillion in economic output, according to the American Medical Association (AMA)'s Economic Impact Study.

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.