Effects of domestic violence on preterm birth and low birth weight

Academic Article


  • Background. Domestic violence is increasingly recognized as a potentially modifiable risk factor for adverse pregnancy outcomes. This study was conducted to evaluate the relationship between abuse during pregnancy or within the last year and low birth weight and preterm birth. Methods. From 1997 to 2001, 3149 low income, relatively low-risk pregnant women (82% African-American) participated in this prospective study. The Abuse Assessment Screen, a validated screening tool, which assesses emotional, physical or sexual abuse, injuries due to physical abuse and physical abuse in the index pregnancy, was filled out by 3103 women. Results. Of the women screened, 26.6% reported emotional abuse, 18.7% reported physical abuse in the past year and 10.3% women reported being beaten, bruised, threatened with a weapon or being permanently injured. Abuse during pregnancy was reported by 5.9% of the women. Low birth weight and preterm birth occurred in 10.9% and 10.2% of the pregnant women, respectively. Logistic regression analyzes indicated that injury due to physical abuse within the past year was significantly associated with both preterm birth [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.6, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.1-2.3] and low birth weight (AOR = 1.8, 95% CI = 1.3-2.5) after adjusting for other covariates. The mean birth weight of infants born to women who were injured due to physical abuse was significantly lower (-75.2 g, p = 0.04) than the mean birth weight of infants of women who were not injured. Conclusion. These results indicate that in our population, injuries resulting from physical abuse are associated with both low birth weight and preterm birth. © Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Neggers Y; Goldenberg R; Cliver S; Hauth J
  • Start Page

  • 455
  • End Page

  • 460
  • Volume

  • 83
  • Issue

  • 5