Preterm labor, placental abruption, and premature rupture of membranes in relation to maternal violence or verbal abuse

Joseph Shumway, Patricia O'Campo, Andrea Gielen, Frank R. Witter, Adib N. Khouzami, Karin J. Blakemore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Objective: The prevalence of preterm labor (PTL) in prenatal populations has been estimated to be from 6.9 to 10.0%. It has been suggested that violence during pregnancy may be associated with an increase in antenatal complications. The hypothesis is that physical violence and verbal abuse in pregnancy lead to increased risk of PTL. Methods: A cohort of 636 women attending the Adult Obstetrical Clinic for their first prenatal visit, between December 1989 and September 1990, were approached; 567 women enlisted as study participants. Study participants were interviewed 3 times during the course of their prenatal care, and 401 participants successfully completed their third prenatal interviews. Violence data were obtained during the third interview. Obstetrical and neonatal outcome data were obtained by abstracting the maternal and neonatal medical records. Results: When stratified by levels of violence, women who experienced moderate or severe violence had incidences of PTL of 15.4 and 17.2%, respectively. Chi-square test for homogeneity revealed a significant difference among these groups. Conclusions: In our cohort of women, serious acts of verbal abuse and physical violence occurred with significant frequency. PTL was strongly correlated with increasing acts of violence with 4.1 times greater risk of PTL in women who experienced severe violence as compared to those who experienced no maternal abuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-80
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999


  • Domestic violence
  • Maternal violence
  • Placental abruption
  • Pregnancy trauma
  • Premature rupture of membranes
  • Preterm labor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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