Premature births linked to physical abuse

Feb 22, 2008

Premature birth can have serious effects on the development and growth of children. In many parts of the world, preterm deliveries are increasing in frequency. In a study published in the February 2008 issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, researchers from the University of Porto Medical School and the Hospital S. João, Porto, Portugal, found that there was a strong link between physical abuse during pregnancy and premature births.

Using a well-validated questionnaire, the Abuse Assessment Screen, 2660 Caucasian women consecutively delivered of singleton births at the Hospital S. João were surveyed to assess their experiences during pregnancy. This survey captured demographic, behavioral and obstetric data, including the type and frequency of physical abuse, if any.

Twenty-four percent of mothers of preterm newborn infants had experienced physical abuse during pregnancy compared with 8% of mothers of term newborn infants. Violence was associated with preterm birth even after controlling for age, marital status, education, income, parity, planned pregnancy, antenatal care, smoking, alcohol, and illicit drugs use.

Writing in the article, Teresa Rodrigues, MD, states, “The main strengths of this study are its large sample size, the high participation rate; the inclusion of women from virtually all social and economic strata and a broad range of pregnancy and delivery risk profiles. Assessment of violence exposure took place with guaranteed privacy, through face-to-face interviews that used highly trained personnel.” She emphasizes that women are not generally evaluated during pregnancy for physical abuse and that this study suggests that physicians should recognize such abuse as a risk factor for preterm delivery and address this issue with patients.

Source: Elsevier Health Sciences

Explore further: New questions over abortion coverage in health law

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Child sexual abuse: A risk factor for pregnancy

Mar 25, 2010

A new study carried out by Prof. Rachel Lev-Wiesel and Dr. Tzachi Ben Zion has found that women who were victims of sexual abuse in childhood reported higher levels of depression and symptoms of post-trauma during pregnancy.

'Orchid children' bloom, wither in response to surroundings

Jan 31, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A UA-led study backs evidence that some children are more susceptible to adverse environmental factors than others. So-called "orchid children" bloom spectacularly in positive environments but often are at ...

Exhausted? Feeling really tired can threaten your health

Oct 22, 2010

For many of us, exhaustion is a fact of life. But for the rich and famous, it seems acute weariness can be so debilitating that it requires hospitalization and, in the case of Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director ...

Recommended for you

Smoking rates on the rise in New York City

10 hours ago

For the first time in years, more than 1 million New Yorkers are smoking, marking a disturbing rise of tobacco use in the city that pioneered a number of anti-smoking initiatives that were emulated nationally.

Web-based training can reduce campus rape

11 hours ago

Web-based training targeted at college-aged men is an effective tool for reducing the number of sexual assaults on U.S. campuses, according to a researcher in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University.

User comments : 0