Domestic abuse during pregnancy

Domestic abuse during pregnancy

Domestic abuse during pregnancy is a major public health concern with serious consequences for maternal and infant health. The British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology reports that one in six pregnant women will experience domestic violence. Evidence also suggests that around 30% of domestic violence starts or worsens during pregnancy. Where abuse occurs during pregnancy, injury to the abdomen, breasts and genitals are common. It follows that domestic abuse is a factor in a significant proportion of maternal and perinatal mortality and morbidity.

Commonly violence during pregnancy can cause placental separation, foetal fractures, antepartum haemorrhage, rupture of the uterus and pre-term labour' . Abuse can also indirectly impact upon the health of a woman and her baby through poor diet and restricted access to antenatal care.

In 2000, the Department of Health endorsed routine antenatal enquiry for domestic violence: this was also endorsed by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives, and NICE who in 2001 recommended that all pregnant women should be asked routinely about domestic abuse as part of their social history.