Measure the prevalence of physical and sexual abuse during pregnancy, determine the nature and severity of abuse, and assess correlates with abuse.
A total of 1,314 women seeking prenatal care between July 2000 and January 2003 were approached at three public hospitals in Mexico City. An original composite case record form was created to measure physical and sexual abuse before and during pregnancy.
Forty-one percent of respondents had a history of physical or sexual abuse, with current abuse reported by 11.1 percent, and abuse during pregnancy by 7.6 percent. Among abused women, 71 percent reported an increase in the severity of abuse since becoming pregnant. Logistic regression revealed physically fighting with a partner and a history of abuse best predict violence during pregnancy.
The severity of abuse among abused women appears to increase during pregnancy. Prenatal care visits in Mexico are an important opportunity for violence screening and intervention.