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“Access to guns within the context of intimate partner violence is a frequently overlooked infant mental health issue.

We know that environmental stress experienced during pregnancy disrupts fetal brain development. Epigenetic changes resulting from prenatal chronic stress persist after birth and are associated with aggressive behavior and emotional negativity in toddlers. One significant stressor is intimate partner violence, made all the more stressful, threatening, and dangerous when guns are present.

American women are 16 times more likely to be killed by a gun than women in other high-income countries and 55% of these deaths are by their intimate partners. Seventy American women are shot and killed every month by an intimate partner. The prelude to murder by an intimate partner often includes coercive control, stalking, micromanaging, and threatening with a gun, all highly stressful living conditions.” Read on for the full article, published on the American Academy of Pediatrics Voices Blog.


Sherri L. Alderman, MD, MPH, IMHM-E Policy & Clinical, FAAP, is a developmental behavioral pediatrician, a faculty member at Portland State University in Oregon, and the immediate past chair of the AAP Council on Early Childhood.

Lisa Reynolds, MD, FAAP, is a general pediatrician at the Children’s Clinic in Portland, Oregon, and a state representative in the Oregon Legislature.

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