Back to top

Physical Abuse of Women Before, During, and After Pregnancy

Abstract: Objectives: To examine patterns of physical abuse before, during, and after pregnancy in a representative statewide sample of North Carolina women. Design, Setting, and Participants: Survey of participants in the North Carolina Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (NC PRAMS). Of the 3542 women invited to participate in NC PRAMS between July 1, 1997, and December 31, 1998, 75% (n = 2648) responded. Results: The prevalence of abuse before pregnancy was 6.9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 5.6%-8.2%) compared with 6.1% (95% CI, 4.8%-7.4%) during pregnancy and 3.2% (95% CI, 2.3%-4.1%) during a mean postpartum period of 3.6 months. Abuse during a previous period was strongly predictive of later abuse. Most women who were abused after pregnancy (77%) were injured, but only 23% received medical treatment for their injuries. Virtually all abused and nonabused women used well-baby care; private physicians were the most common source of care. The mean number of well-baby care visits did not differ significantly by maternal patterns of abuse. Conclusion: Since well-baby care use is similar for abused and nonabused mothers, pediatric practices may be important settings for screening women for violence.