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Keywords:

  • pregnancy;
  • domestic violence;
  • birth weight;
  • socioeconomic factors

Purpose: To compare the effects of recent intimate partner abuse on maternal and infant health in publicly versus privately insured pregnant women.

Design: Exploratory descriptive analysis in 13 Massachusetts prenatal care sites from records of 2,052 women who had been screened during pregnancy for domestic violence.

Methods: Clinicians screened pregnant women for domestic violence using the Abuse Assessment Screen. After delivery, prenatal and birth outcome data and abuse screening results were extracted from medical records by project staff. Odds ratios were used to compare maternal and infant health indicators in abused and nonabused women. Data from women with public and private health insurance then were examined separately, using logistic regression to control for low education and single marital status while examining the odds of adverse maternal and infant outcomes in abused and nonabused women.

Findings: In the sample as a whole, recently abused women were more likely to be publicly insured and unmarried, to have less than 12 years of formal education, and to have medical and obstetrical complications. Parity, ethnic background, and infant birth outcomes did not differ in relation to abuse. In separate analyses for women with public and private health insurance, after controlling for marital status and education, abuse increased the odds of low infant Apgar scores, poor nutrition, hyperemesis, hypertension, and substance abuse in publicly insured women, and abuse increased the odds of poor nutrition and bleeding during pregnancy for privately insured women.

Conclusions: The different correlates of abuse in publicly and privately insured women might be important for clinicians caring for these different populations. Screening for abuse and providing abuse-related services are indicated for pregnant women.