Lifetime and During Pregnancy Experience of Violence and the Risk of Low Birth Weight and Preterm Birth

Authors

  • Lise E. Fried DSc, MS,

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    • Lise E. Fried, DSc, MS, is Associate Director of the Institute for Community Health, a research institute in Cambridge, MA. She is an Instructor in Medicine at the Harvard Medical School. She has a Doctorate of Science in epidemiology from the Boston University of Public Health and a Master of Science in Public Health from Tufts University, Boston, MA.

  • Howard Cabral PhD, MPH,

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    • Howard Cabral, PhD, MPH, is an Associate Professor of Biostatistics at Boston University. He has a doctorate of philosophy in Biostatistics and a Master of Public Health from Boston University, Boston, MA.

  • Hortensia Amaro PhD,

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    • Hortensia Amaro, PhD, is a Distinguished Professor of Health Sciences at the Bouvé School of Health Sciences at Northeastern University and the Director of the Institute on Urban Health Research, Boston, MA. She has a doctorate of philosophy in psychology from the University of California at Los Angeles.

  • Ann Aschengrau ScD

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    • Ann Aschengrau, ScD, is a professor and the associate chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA. She received her MS and ScD in epidemiology from Harvard University.


Lise E. Fried, DSc, MS, Institute for Community Health, 163 Gore St., Cambridge, MA 02141. E-mail: lfried@challiance.org

Abstract

In order to assess the relationship between lifetime and during pregnancy experience of violence and low birth weight (LBW) and preterm birth outcomes, we designed a prospective cohort study in which the birth outcomes of women who experienced violence before their pregnancy or who experienced violence during pregnancy were compared to women who reported no lifetime experience of violence. We found that the risk of having a low birth weight or preterm baby was higher for women who did not experience violence. The proportion of women who had LBW babies was 7.1% for women who experienced violence during pregnancy, 7.8% for women who experienced violence before the current pregnancy, and 9.1% for nonexposed women. The proportion of preterm births was 3.5% for women exposed to violence during pregnancy, 8.5% for women exposed before the current pregnancy, and 9.7% for nonexposed women. However, married women who experienced violence had a higher proportion of LBW and preterm infants compared to the reference group of nonvictims of violence. Overall, women who experienced violence during pregnancy and before their current pregnancy did not have a greater proportion of LBW babies or preterm births. The findings suggest that married women in certain populations may experience more frequent or more severe experience of violence than unmarried women.

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