Violence during pregnancy linked to low birth weight
Pregnant women who are assaulted by an intimate partner are at increased risk of giving birth to infants of reduced weight, according to a population-level analysis of domestic violence supported by the National Institutes of Health.
The study analyzed medical records of more than 5 million pregnant women in California over a 10-year period. Although the results showed a pattern of low-weight births among women who experienced an assault, the study was not designed to establish cause and effect, and so could not prove that violence caused the reduced birth weights. Similarly, the study was not designed to provide a biological explanation for how violence against an expectant mother might cause her child to be of lower birth weight.
Infants born to women who were hospitalized for injuries received from an assault during their pregnancies weighed, on average, 163 grams, or one-third pound, less than did infants born to women who were not hospitalized, the study found. Assaults in the first trimester were associated with the largest decrease in birth weight.
Infants born weighing less than 2,500 grams, or 5.5 pounds, are considered low birth weight and have an increased risk of death or of developing several health and developmental disorders. Low birth weight infants also are at greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) as well as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, heart disorders and learning disabilities. The study found that among infants born to mothers who had experienced an assault, about 15 percent weighed less than 2,500 grams at birth. This rate was higher than the rate of low birth weight infants among pregnant women who were hospitalized after a car crash or for other injuries (8 to 10 percent) and more than double the rate among women who were not hospitalized while pregnant (6 percent).
Although women's education level, rates of smoking, and nutritional habits are known to affect birth weight, the study concluded that the lower birth weights seen in the study could not be accounted for by these factors and were most strongly linked to the violence itself.
"These findings suggest that violence experienced by pregnant women could put their infants at increased risk for low birth weight and its subsequent health problems," said Rosalind B. King, Ph.D., of the Demographic and Behavioral Sciences Branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the NIH institute that funded the study. "It follows that programs to reduce violence against women might have the added benefit of reducing the number of low birth weight infants."
The study was conducted by Anna Aizer, Ph.D., of Brown University, Providence, R.I. Her findings were published online in the Journal of Human Resources.
Using data collected between 1991 and 2002, Dr. Aizer compared the birth records in California to the records of pregnant women hospitalized in California as a result of injuries from assault.
She found that for every 100,000 women who gave birth in that period, 31 had been hospitalized for an injury from an assault while they were pregnant. Although these data did not distinguish between domestic violence and violence from other types of assault, previous research has shown that 87 percent of pregnant women with injuries were injured by an intimate partner.
The overall rate of assaults was 31 per 100,000 women. The study documented higher rates of assault among the poor (49.5 per 100,000), black women (157 per 100,000), and those without a high school education (39 per 100,000).
Dr. Aizer theorized that higher rates of violence among poor women might be a root cause of poor health and poverty that persists in some families from one generation to the next. A connection between violence during pregnancy, adult health, and future earnings is possible because all three factors are linked to low birth weight. Poor women are at greater risk for having low birth weight infants than are other women. In turn, when they reach adulthood, individuals born at low birth weight are at increased risk for such adult health problems as diabetes and heart disease. Also, when they reach adulthood, individuals born at low birth weight infants also earn less than their counterparts who were born at normal birth weight.
"The costs of violence against women may be borne not just by the victims but by the next generation as well," said Dr. Aizer. "Given the importance of birth weight in determining adult education and income, these results suggest that the higher levels of violence experienced by poor women may also contribute to the intergenerational persistence of poverty."
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has developed a slide presentation for physicians, advising them on how to screen patients for intimate partner violence, how to assess patients safety, and where to refer patients for additional help.
As required by the Affordable Care Act, new health plans will need to include domestic violence screening and counseling along with other preventive services for women, beginning on Aug. 1, 2012.
Provided by National Institutes of Health
- Preterm births higher among overweight and obese mothers Jul 21, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Violence against women impairs children's health Sep 11, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Gaining too much weight during pregnancy nearly doubles risk of having a heavy baby Oct 31, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Study examines relationship between low birth weight and psychiatric problems in children Sep 01, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Disparities in infant mortality not related to race, study finds Jul 31, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Assumptions of Griffith's fracture theory
4 hours ago Any experts on Griffith's fracture theory? I am studying the subject and I am having hard time finding out if the theory is valid for all possible...
Current leading voltage or vice versa concept
6 hours ago Hello, I was wondering if there is a conceptual explanation for when current leads voltage or vice versa for capacitors or inductors with AC...
Angular Frequency of AC voltage
9 hours ago Hello, I am wondering, what is the physical interpretation of the angular frequency of AC voltage? I don't see the physicality of what the angle...
Modeling Rigid Body - Unsure about Euler angles and angular velocity
9 hours ago I'm modeling a single 3D rigid body in preparation for some more complicated modeling in order to gain a better understanding of Euler angles, the...
Function for a bullet's path
11 hours ago I've been mulling this over all weekend, and I've decided to get some help on this. The problem is writing a function to describe a bullet's path....
Elementary questions relating to Newton's laws of motion
12 hours ago i) If a wall breaks when it gets hit by a cannonball, did the wall exert an equal and opposite force on the cannonball? ii) Would the force...
- More from Physics Forums - Classical Physics
More news stories
Nearly three out of four pregnant women experience constipation, diarrhea or other bowel disorders during their pregnancies, a Loyola University Medical Center study has found.
Obstetrics & gynaecology 15 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
New research indicates that women's reproductive function may be tied to their immune status. Previous studies have found this association in human males, but not females.
Obstetrics & gynaecology May 17, 2013 | not rated yet | 0 |
Elsevier today announced the publication of a recent study in Reproductive BioMedicine Online on 5-day old human blastocysts showing that those with an abnormal chromosomal composition can be identified by the rate at whic ...
Obstetrics & gynaecology May 16, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
While global attention has for decades been focused on reducing maternal mortality, population-based data on other causes of death among women of reproductive age has been virtually non-existent. A study conducted by researchers ...
Obstetrics & gynaecology May 14, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Doctors have terminated the pregnancy of a 23-year-old Turkish woman who was the first ever to receive a uterus transplant from a dead donor, a hospital in southern Turkey said on Tuesday.
Obstetrics & gynaecology May 14, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Cardiologists have identified a trio of biomarkers that may predict which patients with heart disease have a high risk of heart attack or death in the next two years.
26 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Each day, an average of nine people are killed in the United States and more than 1,000 injured by drivers doing something other than driving.
42 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—We spend about a third of our life asleep, but why we need to do so remains a mystery. In a recent publication, researchers at University of Surrey and University College London suggest a new hypothesis, ...
36 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—International researchers are studying the salt intake of Indian adults to provide vital new data to aid the development of a national salt reduction strategy.
26 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Exposure to sunshine as a small child is crucial to the development of a healthy eye according to results of long-term myopia study conducted by University of Sydney researchers.
16 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Johns Hopkins researchers say they have discovered specific chemical alterations in two genes that, when present during pregnancy, reliably predict whether a woman will develop postpartum depression.
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |