Impact of police-reported intimate partner violence during pregnancy on birth outcomes

Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Sep;102(3):557-64. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(03)00573-8.


Objective: To examine the relationship of police-reported intimate partner violence during pregnancy and adverse birth outcomes.

Methods: We conducted a population-based, retrospective, cohort study in Seattle, Washington, using Seattle police data and Washington State birth certificate files from January 1995 through September 1999. Exposed subjects were women with an intimate partner violence incident reported to police during pregnancy and who subsequently had a singleton live birth or fetal death registered in the state of Washington. Unexposed subjects were randomly selected Seattle residents with a singleton live birth or fetal death in the same time period and who did not report an incident. The main outcome measures were low birth weight (LBW less than 2500 g), very LBW (VLBW less than 1500 g), preterm birth (20-36 weeks' gestation), very preterm birth (20-31 weeks), and neonatal death (before discharge).

Results: Women reporting any partner violence during pregnancy were significantly more likely to have a LBW infant (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.70; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.20, 2.40), a VLBW infant (aOR 2.54; 95% CI 1.32, 4.91), a preterm birth (aOR 1.61; 95% CI 1.14, 2.28), a very preterm birth (aOR 3.71; 95% CI 1.80, 7.63), and a neonatal death (aOR 3.49; 95% CI 1.43, 8.50).

Conclusion: Police-reported partner violence during pregnancy is significantly associated with an increased risk of adverse birth outcomes. There is a critical need to identify pregnancy among women with reported incidents and to provide women health and social service information and referrals, particularly referrals to high-risk pregnancy programs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Fetal Death / epidemiology*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant Mortality / trends*
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight
  • Mandatory Reporting*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / epidemiology*
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / etiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Police
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Complications / etiology
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Spouse Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Violence
  • Washington / epidemiology