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Pregnancy outcomes and intimate partner violence in New Zealand


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    The deprivation index is a community measure of deprivation calculated by Stats NZ from census data and measures the level of deprivation per census meshblock, which contains approximately 100–150 people.

: Dr Janet Fanslow, Social and Community Health, School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand. Email:


Aim: This study aims to describe pregnancy outcomes for a population-based sample of New Zealand women, and to explore the relationship between lifetime experience of intimate partner violence (IPV) and two non-birth pregnancy outcomes: spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) and termination of pregnancy (abortion).

Methods: Face-to-face interviews were conducted with a random sample of 2391 women who had ever been pregnant, aged 18–64 years old, in two regions (urban and rural). Both outcome measures were determined by asking women if they had ever had a miscarriage or an abortion. Analyses were conducted using logistic regression.

Results: Almost one in three ever-pregnant women reported having at least one miscarriage, and at least one in ten reported terminating a pregnancy. Even controlling for potential confounders, women who had ever experienced IPV were 1.4 times more likely to report they had ever had a miscarriage compared with women who had never experienced violence (P = 0.008), and were 2.5 times more likely to report they had ever had an abortion (P < 0.0001). Ethnicity was significantly associated with experiencing a miscarriage (Asian and Pacific women were less likely compared with European/Pākehā women), and having ever had an abortion (Asian women were 3.5 times more likely compared with Pākehā women).

Conclusions: In this population-based sample, miscarriage was relatively common, as was termination of pregnancy. IPV was significantly associated with both induced and spontaneous abortion. Healthcare settings that see women experiencing these pregnancy outcomes need to be cognisant of the link with current and historical IPV, and be able to respond to women appropriately.