Domestic Violence Can Double Risk of Preterm Birth
Physical injuries and inadequate maternal care lead to serious complications
A study out of the University of Iowa revealed what most of us could have already guessed—domestic violence during pregnancy puts both mom and baby at increased risk for serious health problems. Published this past March in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the results show intimate partner violence during pregnancy is “significantly associated with” preterm birth (before 38 weeks) and low birth weight, finding that women who endured abuse while pregnant were almost twice as likely to deliver their babies preterm.
Trauma to a woman’s abdomen, as well as sexual abuse, may increase the risk of spontaneous abortion, preterm delivery, low birth weight or neonatal death, say researchers, but the risks aren’t limited just to those abused physically. Adverse birth outcomes are also linked to increased stress, inadequate nutrition and prenatal care, and negative maternal behavior. This could include smoking, drinking or not sleeping, says family practice doctor and American Academy of Family Physicians Board Chair, Wanda Filer, MD.