Background: Examination of maternal experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV) and depression as risk factors for food insecurity can provide a more nuanced understanding of the role that the family environment and women's health plays in the lives of families with young children that experience food insecurity. We investigated the longitudinal association between mothers' experiences of IPV and household food insecurity, and whether maternal depression mediated the relationship. Methods: IPV, depression, and food insecurity were assessed among 1,690 socioeconomically disadvantaged mothers of young children who participated in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study. Longitudinal multivariate logistic regression models were used to examine the association between IPV measured 3 years after the child's birth and increase in food insecurity from child's third to fifth birthday, as well as the mediating role of maternal depression, controlling for a number of maternal and household characteristics. Results: Mothers who reside in food insecure households and those who experience IPV share similar characteristics of socioeconomic disadvantage and a greater propensity for depression compared to their counterparts. Mothers' experiences of IPV predicted an increased risk of household food insecurity two years later, and the relationship was mediated by maternal depression. Conclusions: Food insecure mothers may benefit from widespread assistance. Targeting issues central to women's health must become a priority in combating food insecurity. Having IPV and mental health screenings coincide with food assistance applications may help identify women who would benefit from resources designed to increase physical safety, psychological well-being, and food security.
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