Domestic violence in pregnancy is linked to depression and childhood behavioural problems, suggests new research published today in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Domestic violence has significant health consequences and it is estimated that around 24% of women have suffered from it. In particular, abuse during pregnancy can increase the risk of complications such as pre-term labour, reduced birth weight, miscarriage and fetal death.
This study looked at the long term impact of antenatal domestic violence on maternal psychiatric morbidity and child behaviour.
The study involved 13,617 women. A strong link was found between antenatal violence and violence post-birth: 71% of women who experienced antenatal domestic violence pregnancy also experienced violence postnatally.
Louise Howard, Professor in Women’s Mental Health, from the Health Services and Population Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London and senior author of the paper said:
“This strong link between antenatal and postnatal violence should help health workers identify future problems. Pregnancy is a time when women will come into frequent contact with health professionals and therefore are more likely to talk about domestic violence being suffered and psychiatric symptoms.”