Poverty and InequalitySexual and Reproductive HealthFamily, Maternal & Child HealthMethodology

Relationship between birth spacing, child maltreatment, and child behavior and development outcomes among at-risk families

TitleRelationship between birth spacing, child maltreatment, and child behavior and development outcomes among at-risk families
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsCrowne, SS, Gonsalves, K, Burrell, L, McFarlane, E, Duggan, A
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
ISBN Number10927875 (ISSN)
KeywordsAdult, article, Birth Intervals, Birth spacing, Child, child abuse, child behavior, Child development, Child maltreatment, child parent relation, Child, Preschool, Family, family planning, Female, Hawaii, human, Humans, interview, Interviews as Topic, Longitudinal Studies, longitudinal study, Male, Maternal Age, mother, Mothers, Multivariate Analysis, Parent-Child Relations, Parenting, preschool child, proportional hazards model, Proportional Hazards Models, psychological aspect, Risk, Socioeconomic Factors, socioeconomics, United States, Young Adult

Prior research indicates that closely spaced births are associated with poor outcomes for the mother and subsequent child. Limited research has focused on outcomes for the index child (the child born immediately prior to a subsequent child in a birth interval). The objectives are to assess the association of short birth intervals in at-risk families with: (1) indicators of harsh and neglectful parenting behaviors towards the index child, including substantiated maltreatment reports across 6 years; and (2) the index child's behavior and development in first grade. This is a longitudinal study of 658 women screened to be at-risk for child maltreatment. Twenty percent of women had a rapid repeat birth (RRB), defined as the birth of a subsequent child within 24 months of the index child. Generalized estimating equations, survival analyses, and linear and logistic regression models were used to assess the associations between RRB and index child outcomes. Women with an RRB were more likely than those without an RRB to report neglectful parenting of the index child. Children of mothers with an RRB were more likely than children of mothers without an RRB to have more behavioral problems and lower cognitive functioning in first grade. This study is among the first to focus on the associations of birth spacing with maltreatment, behavior and development outcomes in the index child. Future work regarding the effects of birth spacing should include a focus on the index child. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011.