Faculty Publications

Prenatal Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence and Child Developmental Outcomes: A Scoping Review Study

Document Type



child developmental outcomes, prenatal exposure to intimate partner violence, scoping review

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Trauma, Violence, and Abuse


Pregnant women face an increased risk of intimate partner violence (IPV). In addition to the risk of violence faced by women, there is a dual concern for risk of harm to the fetus. Expanding knowledge on childbirth outcomes, other domains of children’s development have been examined in recent literature. Yet, there is limited comprehensive knowledge in the area. This scoping review study, informed by ecobiodevelopmental theory, mapped evidence associating prenatal IPV exposure and children’s development. We searched eight databases, including PubMed, CINAHL, and ERIC. Thirty-one empirical studies published in English that associated prenatal IPV exposure and children’s development were eligible for our review. Included studies were published between 2006 and 2022, with 39% published in the most recent 5 years. Eighteen studies had sample sizes smaller than 500, and 21 were atheoretical; six failed to consider covariates. Reviewed studies showed adverse effects of prenatal IPV exposure on psychological, behavioral, physical health, and physiological outcomes, either directly or indirectly via mechanisms such as maternal behavioral health. Due to inconsistency in results and a lack of empirical evidence, however, social and cognitive outcomes were identified as needing further research to enhance our understanding of the global and domain-specific effects of prenatal IPV exposure. Prospective longitudinal studies, driven by theories of causal mechanisms, which adjust for empirically qualified confounders, will be critical to inform practice and policy to promote healthy development of prenatally IPV-exposed children. Incorporating strengths/asset-focused outcomes and examining contextual factors and sex/gender specific effects may advance the knowledge in this area.


Rod Library

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