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

Panteha Hayati Rezvan*, Mark Tomlinson, Joan Christodoulou, Ellen Almirol, Jacqueline Stewart, Sarah Gordon, Thomas R. Belin, Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-419
Number of pages11
JournalChild Psychiatry and Human Development
Issue number3
Early online date18 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) R01AA017104 and supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) MH58107, 5P30AI028697, and UL1TR000124. PHR is supported by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) T32MH109205 and Center for HIV Identification, Prevention, and Treatment Services (CHIPTS) P30MH58107. MT is supported by the National Research Foundation (South Africa) and is a lead investigator of the Centre of Excellence in Human Development, University of the Witwatersrand, in South Africa. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The authors have declared that they have no competing or potential conflicts of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Child behavior problems
  • Food insecurity
  • HIV
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Longitudinal studies
  • Maternal risks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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