Pregnancy abuse: Abuse of an expectant mother. This abuse is most often perpetrated by the woman's spouse, partner, or relative. Spurts of temper can progress to shouting and name calling. Then pushing and shoving. The use of physical violence can start a pattern. It is estimated that 1 in 12 pregnant women is battered. Most cases of pregnancy abuse are not reported because the woman who was beaten is afraid or ashamed or is dependent on the abuser.
Pregnancy abuse is not only bad for the pregnant woman, it may also affect the health of her unborn baby. In a study of 1,004 women interviewed within 3 days of delivery, over 5% reported they had been abused during their pregnancy by their partners. The maternal abuse showed a significant correlation with the baby's low birth weight. Pregnant women who had been abused by their partners were more likely to deliver low birth weight babies. Low birth weight babies have more health problems than infants born at normal weight. (Reference: American Journal of Epidemiology 1999;150:714-726.)