Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2010 Nov;19(11):2017-31. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2010.2051. Epub 2010 Oct 4.

Maternal exposure to domestic violence and pregnancy and birth outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analyses.

Author information

  • 1Department of Paediatrics, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Canada.



Pregnant women who experience domestic violence are at increased risk of adverse outcomes in addition to the risks to themselves. Inadequate prenatal care, higher incidences of high-risk behaviors, direct physical trauma, stress, and neglect are postulated mechanisms. Our objective was to systematically review birth outcomes among women who experienced domestic violence.


Medline, Embase, CINAHL, and bibliographies of identified articles were searched for English language studies. Studies reporting rates of low birth weight, preterm birth, small for gestational age births, birth weight, or gestational age at birth were included. Study quality was assessed for selection, exposure assessment, confounder adjustment, analyses, outcomes assessment, and attrition biases. Unadjusted and adjusted data from included studies were extracted by two reviewers. Summary odds ratio (OR) and confidence intervals (CI) were calculated using the random effects model. Population-attributable risk was calculated.


Thirty studies of low to moderate risk of biases were included. Low birth weight (adjusted OR 1.53, 95% CI 1.28-1.82) and preterm births (adjusted OR 1.46, 95% CI 1.27-1.67) were increased among women exposed to domestic violence. As the prevalence of reported domestic violence during pregnancy was low, the population-attributable risk was low. Prospective cohort studies provided robust and consistent results.


Maternal exposure to domestic violence was associated with significantly increased risk of low birth weight and preterm birth. Underreporting of domestic violence is hypothesized. Effective programs to identify violence and intervene during pregnancy are essential.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
    Loading ...
    Support Center