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Undoing the Emotional Effects of Domestic Violence in Very Young Children

Narrator: This is Science Today. Research findings indicate that exposure to domestic violence during pregnancy can cause more harmful effects than physical conditions that are routinely screened for, such as exposure to toxins and other medical problems.

Lieberman: Low birth weight, premature birth, perinatal complications during delivery, difficulty being soothed and there are some studies showing the cortisol levels of babies, the stress hormones in babies born to depressed and battered women is higher than the cortisol levels of babies born to women who are not either distressed or battered.

Narrator: Psychiatrist Alicia Lieberman of the University of California, San Francisco has spent her career trying to prevent and undo emotional effects inflicted on very young children growing up in violence-prone homes.

Lieberman: Investment in the first three years of life has the best predictive role in creating positive change.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.