Prenatal Exposure to Violence Leads to Increased Toddler Aggression Toward Mothers, Study Finds

Babies whose mothers experience interpersonal violence during pregnancy are more likely to exhibit aggression and defiance toward their mothers in toddlerhood, according to new research by Laura Miller-Graff, assistant professor of psychology and peace studies, and Jennifer Burke Lefever, managing director of the William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families, both at the University of Notre Dame.

While it is fairly well-known that pregnant women have an elevated risk for domestic violence, much of the associated research focuses on the negative impact of that violence on pregnancy, labor and delivery. Miller-Graff and Lefever’s study, co-published with Amy Nuttall in The International Journal of Behavioral Development, examines the short- and long-term impact of prenatal violence (regardless of perpetrator) on children’s later adjustment outcomes. Nuttall earned her doctorate at Notre Dame in 2015 and is currently assistant professor of human development and family studies at Michigan State University.

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August 15, 2018

Health and SocietyCollege of Arts and LettersKellogg Institute for International StudiesKeough School of Global AffairsLaura Miller-GraffPsychologyWilliam J. Shaw Center for Children and Families