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Violence Vict. 2002 Apr;17(2):169-85.

The effects of domestic violence during pregnancy on maternal and infant health.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824-1117, USA.


The present study examined the impact of domestic violence on maternal and infant health by assessing maternal health during pregnancy and infant health at two months postpartum. Two hundred and two women (68 battered and 134 non-battered) were recruited from the community and completed both pregnancy and 2-month postpartum interviews. Results revealed that domestic violence during pregnancy was associated with numerous health problems for mothers and infants including more health problems during pregnancy, more likelihood of premature labor, later entrance into prenatal care, lower infant birth weight, greater utilization of health care resources, and more prenatal substance use. After income was controlled, the relationship between violence and timing of prenatal care and infant birth weight became nonsignificant. Maternal social support was found to protect against the effects of violence for several health outcomes. The current findings suggest the need for domestic violence screening during pregnancy, as well as clinical interventions for battered, pregnant women in order to prevent serious physical and emotional problems for both mothers and their infants.

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