Prospective associations of maternal stressors with child psychosocial problems through the occurrence of child physical abuse and changes in family dynamics

Rosa Sze Man WONG, Keith T. S. TUNG, Ka Man YIM, Ko Ling CHAN, Patrick IP

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

Early childbearing is associated with high maternal stress and family violence. However, the long-term effects of rapid repeat pregnancy (RRP) in young motherhood on child outcomes remain largely unknown. This study examined the pathways between maternal RRP at young ages and child psychosocial problems and emergency room visits in later years. A total of 232 Chinese mother-child dyads provided baseline data in 2015 (Time 1; T1) and follow-up data 6 years later in 2021 (Time 2; T2). At T1, mothers completed questionnaires about child physical abuse frequency and family cohesion and reported their own stress levels. At T2, mothers were re-surveyed with the same questionnaires about child physical abuse frequency and family cohesion. Children’s psychosocial problems were assessed through parent proxy-reports and records of emergency room visits were retrieved from hospital databases. After adjusting for demographic information, maternal history of RRP was associated with child physical abuse at T1 (β =.15, p <.05) and in turn linked to child physical abuse recurrence (β =.22, p <.01) and emergency room visits at T2 (β =.22, p <.001). Improved family cohesion over time did not break the link between maternal RRP and child physical abuse recurrence. Poor family dynamics can lead to child physical abuse recurrence and worsen developmental outcomes in children, particularly when coupled with other risk factors such as maternal RRP at young ages. Early interventions to enhance support and reduce vulnerabilities are important for preventing child physical abuse in at-risk families. Copyright © 2024 The Author(s).

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
Early online dateFeb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Feb 2024

Citation

Wong, R. S., Tung, K. T. S., Yim, K. M., Chan, K. L., & Ip, P. (2024). Prospective associations of maternal stressors with child psychosocial problems through the occurrence of child physical abuse and changes in family dynamics. International Journal of Behavioral Development. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/01650254241230641

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