An overview of current studies on precursors of childhood violence in the perinatal period is provided. The literature highlights risk factors that, if present in a women’s life, intensify during pregnancy compromising the mental and physical health of the mother and child with consequences in the short/medium/long term. The risk factors are: individual (history of maltreatment, parental psychopathology, maternal age, use of smoking/drugs/alcohol); relational (domestic violence, impaired mother-infant interaction); environmental (social disadvantage); newborn characteristics (low birth weight, prematurity, handicap). Future research: 1) should investigate the interactions between individual, relational and environmental factors to understand how these factors interact to produce patterns of violent behavior towards offspring; 2) should develop screening tools to identify populations at risk in the perinatal period.
Keywords: Perinatal period, risk factors, violence, parenting