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Domestic violence and pregnancy

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 03 May 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1295

Risk is greatest after delivery

  1. Gillian C Mezey, Senior lecturera,
  2. Susan Bewley, Director of obstetricsb
  1. a Section of Forensic Psychiatry, St George's Hospital Medical School, London SW17 ORE
  2. b Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, St Thomas's and Guy's Hospitals Trust, London SE1 7EH

    Domestic violence is reported by up to one in four women in Britain1 and represents a serious public health issue. The psychological and social consequences of domestic violence include alcohol and drug dependence, suicide attempts, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.2 3 Pregnancy may increase the risk of violence,4 5 6 7 and the pattern of assault may alter, with pregnant women being more likely to have multiple sites of injury and to be struck on the abdomen.4 5 6 7 However, the risk of moderate to severe violence appears to be greatest in the postpartum period.8

    Several studies have found that women attending accident and emergency departments with physical injuries due to domestic violence are more likely to be pregnant than women attending with accidental injuries. …

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