Cascades of Risk Linking Intimate Partner Violence and Adverse Childhood Experiences to Less Sensitive Caregiving During Infancy




Jesse L. Coe, Lindsay Huffhines, Doris Gonzalez, Ronald Seifer, and Stephanie H. Parade

Brief Type

Journal Publication



This study evaluated if maternal intimate partner violence (IPV) had indirect effects on sensitive parenting in infancy through prenatal depressive symptoms and postpartum parenting stress and if maternal adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) moderated these indirect effects. We hypothesized that: (a) IPV would be associated with greater prenatal depressive symptoms, which would predict greater postpartum parenting stress, and ultimately less sensitive parenting and (b) the link between IPV and depressive symptoms would be strongest for mothers with high ACEs. Participants included 295 mothers and their infants who were assessed prenatally and at 12 months postpartum. Path analyses indicated that mothers with higher IPV endorsed greater prenatal depressive symptoms, which was in turn associated with postpartum parenting stress, and ultimately less sensitive parenting behavior. Moderation analyses revealed that these indirect effects varied as a function of maternal ACEs, with the link between IPV and depressive symptoms only present for mothers who reported high ACEs. Because less sensitive caregiving is often an early indicator of child maltreatment risk, understanding precursors to sensitivity is critical to increase precision in parenting interventions designed to reduce risk for maltreatment. Results may inform evidence-based preventive interventions for mothers and infants at high-risk for child abuse and neglect. (author abstract)

Data Collection Methods

  • Parent-child observations
  • Program administrative record reviews
  • Standardized assessment tools



For More Information

Coe, J. L., Huffhines, L., Gonzalez, D., Seifer, R., & Parade, S. H. (2021). Cascades of risk linking intimate partner violence and adverse childhood experiences to less sensitive caregiving during infancy. Child Maltreatment. https://doi.org/10.1177/10775595211000431
Author Contact Information:
Jesse L. Coe


  • Participant, Family, and Program Outcomes