Domestic violence, malnutrition linked in India

April 25th, 2008 - 1:01 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, April 25 (IANS) Preventing domestic violence could be just as effective as a pharmaceutical approach in combating anaemia among women in India, say researchers. They found that women and children in India experiencing multiple incidents of domestic violence are more likely to be anaemic and underweight. “This is strong evidence that domestic violence is linked with malnutrition among both mothers and children. In India, the withholding of food is a documented form of abuse and is likely correlated with the perpetration of physical violence,” said S.V. Subramanian of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH)

The exhaustive study included 69,072 (aged 15-49 years) women and 14,552 children (12-35 months) from the Indian National Family Health Survey of 1998-99.

The participants were personally interviewed by trained personnel, and the data collected included body measurements, blood samples and information on women’s and child’s exposure to domestic violence in the previous 12 months.

The researchers found that women who reported more than one instance of domestic violence in the previous year had a 11 percent increased likelihood of having anaemia and a 21 percent increased likelihood of being underweight, as compared to women with no such history.

The data suggests a relation between domestic violence and malnutrition among women and children in India.

In India, the withholding of food as a type of abuse could be a factor in the link between physical domestic violence and nutrient deficiencies that cause anaemia and underweight.

Additionally, domestic violence has been strongly associated with a woman’s inability to make decisions for herself and her family, including the choice of types and quantities of food she prepares

The authors’ second explanation is that the link between domestic violence and nutritional deficiencies may also reflect the effects of psychological stress.

Women and children who experience domestic violence tend to have higher levels of psychological stress, which has been associated with anaemia and being underweight.

The findings were published online on March 26 in The American Journal of Epidemiology.

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