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By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Spousal abuse threatens the lives and health of millions of men and women – but what effect does it have on the children in these households?

According to a report in the journal Pediatrics, intimate partner violence, such as domestic abuse, can stunt the development of a child’s language, social or motor skills.

This is not surprising but the study takes what we commonly suspected and puts numbers behind it. The researchers looked at more than 16,000 children in Indiana and surveyed parents for spousal abuse or psychological stress, and compared it to the child’s developmental milestone.

This is important to know because it is essential to understand the complexity of the problem and the fact that we not only need legal intervention in many of these cases but psychological support and guidance for those who are impacted.

An early start is often most effective.

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