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Effects of Domestic Violence During Pregnancy on Maternal and Infant Health

NCJ Number
Violence and Victims Volume: 17 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2002 Pages: 169-185
Date Published
April 2002
17 pages

The article discusses potential health and mental health consequences of the domestic abuse of pregnant women.


Using a sample population of 202 women, 134 non-battered and 68 battered, the authors studied the impact of domestic violence during pregnancy on the health of both the mother and the infant. Data were compiled via interviews and study participants completed two interviews, one during pregnancy and one conducted 2 month postpartum. Domestic violence prevalence rates are presented. Prior research has shown that an estimated 20 percent of pregnant women experience domestic violence, and 95 percent of women abused during pregnancy will experience domestic violence within 3 months of delivery. The study hypotheses were that pregnant women who experienced domestic violence while pregnant would themselves have more health problems during pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum and that their infants would also experience more health problems after delivery. Additionally, the authors hypothesized that mothers experiencing domestic violence while pregnant would also have increased rates of depression and substance abuse while pregnant. The author’s final hypothesis was that effective social support systems could mitigate the damage done by domestic violence to maternal and infant health. The results of the study indicated that domestic violence negatively impacted the health of both the mother and the infant during pregnancy and during the period after birth. However, the results further indicated that incidence of maternal depression and substance abuse did not appear to be related to maternal experiences of domestic violence. The authors also concluded that a mother’s perception of strong social support had a limiting effect on the deleterious impacts of domestic violence. 3 tables, 44 references, appendix

Date Published: April 1, 2002