Prevalence and patterns of intimate partner violence among adolescent mothers during the postpartum period

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002 Apr;156(4):325-30. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.156.4.325.


Objective: To examine prevalence, frequency, severity, and patterns of intimate partner violence (IPV) during the first 24 months' post partum within a multiethnic cohort of adolescents.

Design: A prospective study of adolescent girls followed up for 24 months into the postpartum period. Follow-up surveys were completed at 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months' post partum. Overall, 74% completed at least 4 of the 5 follow-up surveys.

Setting: Postpartum unit at a university teaching hospital in Galveston, Tex.

Participants: A total of 570 adolescents (18 years or younger; 219 Mexican Americans, 182 African Americans, and 169 European Americans) completed face-to-face interviews within 48 hours of delivery and returned at least 4 of 5 follow-up surveys.

Main outcome measures: Prevalence of IPV and frequent and severe IPV.

Results: Prevalence of IPV was highest at 3 months' post partum (21%) and lowest at 24 months (13%). The percentage of assaulted mothers who experienced severe IPV increased from 40% to 62% across this period. Seventy-five percent of mothers reporting IPV during pregnancy also reported IPV within 24 months following delivery. Of importance, 78% who experienced IPV during the first 3 postpartum months had not reported IPV before delivery. Ethnic differences in IPV were observed at 3, 6, and 18 months' post partum.

Conclusions: Adolescents are at high risk for experiencing IPV during the postpartum period. Frequent screening for IPV by health care practitioners is critical to maximize detection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Mexican Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence*
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Spouse Abuse / diagnosis
  • Spouse Abuse / ethnology
  • Spouse Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Texas / epidemiology
  • Whites / statistics & numerical data