Birth Outcomes in Relation to Intimate Partner Violence

Ping Hsin Chen, Sue Rovi, Marielos L. Vega, Theodore Barrett, Ko Yu Pan, Mark S. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objectives Intimate partner violence (IPV)during pregnancy is a significant public health problem. Approximately 324,000 IPV victimizations occur during pregnancy each year. However, research on the impact of IPV on birth outcomes yields conflicting findings. This study examines the association of IPV with birth outcomes among pregnant women. Study design We used a retrospective cohort study design to analyze data from chart reviews of a random sample of 1542 pregnant women. These women were seen between 2003 and 2009 at an urban university affiliated prenatal clinic and gave birth at the on-site hospital. Victims of IPV were defined as those who scored equal to or higher than 10 on an IPV screening tool: HITS (Hit, Insult, Threaten, and Scream). Three measures were included in birth outcomes. Preterm delivery was defined as gestational age less than 37 weeks. Low birth weight was defined as infants born weighing <2500 g. Neonatal intensive care was measured by prevalence of receiving intensive care. Results The prevalence of IPV was 7.5%. Compared to non-abused women, abused women were more likely to have preterm deliveries (18.3% vs. 10.3%; p = .016). Compared to infants of non-victims, infants of victims were more likely to have low birth weight (21.5% vs. 11.0%; p = .003) and to receive neonatal intensive care (23.4% vs. 7.8%; p = .000). Results from multivariate analyses indicated that victims were more likely to have preterm deliveries than non-victims (OR = 1.72; 95% CI: 1.22-2.95). More infants of victims had low birth weight (OR = 2.03; 95% CI: 1.22-3.39) and received neonatal intensive care than those of non-victims (OR = 4.04; 95% CI: 2.46-6.61). Conclusions Abused pregnant women had poorer birth outcomes compared to non-abused pregnant women. Healthcare providers should be trained to screen and identify women for IPV, and interventions should be designed to reduce and prevent IPV and thereby improve health outcomes for victims and their children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-245
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the National Medical Association
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 4 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


  • Low birth weight
  • Neonatal death
  • Pregnancy
  • Preterm delivery
  • Violence


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