In some way or another, nearly every single person living in California has been touched by domestic violence. Those of us who haven’t been a victim usually know someone who has.

Currently one of the most famous video examples of frightening domestic violence is the elevator security tape that caught Ray Rice hitting his wife so hard, she lost consciousness. It’s estimated that in the United States, at least 10 million men and women are abused each year by their domestic partner.

Most of us are familiar with the impact that domestic violence has on children who are exposed to the violence every single day. Michigan State University recently conducted a study exploring what the impact of domestic violence is on unborn children and the results astonished everyone, including professionals who have dedicated their careers to helping people who have been victims of domestic abuse. The study marks the very first time that a link was found between women who were with their abusers while pregnant and children who exhibit what many consider to be abnormal behavior during their first year.

The study explored 182 mothers. MSU researchers looked at everything from marital status, age, income levels, parenting styles and drug use, before they examined the connection between the mothers who were victims of prenatal abuse and the postnatal trauma symptoms exhibited in her child.

Researchers found that the women who were victims of prenatal abuse experienced increased levels of cortisol in their system, a hormone that’s released as part of the bodies stress response system.

“Cortisol is a neurotoxic, so it has damaging effects on the brain when elevated to excessive levels,” and can disrupt the normal development of the growing fetus,” Alytia Levendosky, one of the researchers involved with the study, explained.

Although each child of domestic abuse reacts differently, effects connected to being exposed to an abusive parent from a young age and before they’re born include developmental delays, failure to thrive, separation anxiety, and unusual sleep patterns.

Prior to Michigan State University’s study, the only impact that the medical community knew that exposure to domestic violence included a greater risk for pregnancy loss and health problems. Few people considered that the exposure to the domestic abuse would have potentially long lasting effects on the unborn child.

The hope is that the information collected during the study helps mothers and those who love her, understand why it’s so important to remove herself from the relationship as soon as she discovers she’s pregnant.

California personal injury attorney Drew Warren worries about the lives of children who grow up in a home where domestic abuse runs rampant. “Not only do I find the results of the Michigan State University to be enlightening, it also drives home just how far reaching the effects of domestic abuse really are. I hope women who are with abusive partners have the strength to remove themselves from the situation. I also hope that these women can contact a personal injury attorney and discuss how to pursue a personal injury civil case against their former partner.”