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Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2000 Aug;79(8):625-30.

Domestic violence during pregnancy. The prevalence of physical injuries, substance use, abortions and miscarriages.

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Department of Public Health and Occupational Health, University of Bergen, Norway.



The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of physical injuries, alcohol and tobacco use, abortions and miscarriages due to domestic violence during pregnancy and to compare socio-economic background factors between abused and non abused women.


Personal interview combined with a standardized questionnaire involving 207 pregnant Swedish born women married to or cohabiting with Swedish born men. The women were consecutively chosen from three different antenatal clinics in Göteborg, Sweden.


Overall 30 women were abused during the current pregnancy as defined from the category 'symbolic violence' in the Severity of Violence Against Women Scale (SVAW). The most frequent targets for physical abuse were: the upper arm, the forearm, and the face and neck region. Ninety-five percent of women abused during pregnancy had been abused prior to the pregnancy. Notable was the finding that 4.3% of the pregnant women had been exposed to serious violence. Abused women were significantly younger and single, had lower income and education compared to the non abused women. In the group of abused women a higher proportion of women had undergone one or more abortions than in the non-abused group. Smoking and alcohol use among partners were strongly correlated with physical and sexual abuse.


The results suggest that in antenatal and obstetric clinics, emphasis should be focused on previous history of abuse and a complete physical examination of the women. Since bruises often were located at hidden areas of the body, it is of importance to scrutinize those sites as part of a routine examination. It is also important to look for common defensive marks on the forearms. The partner's cigarette and alcohol use is also an important piece of information regarding risk factors connected to domestic violence.

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