Outcomes following abuse during pregnancy and conception rape: A comparative analysis of mother and child pairs
Purpose: Approximately 50% of female rapes are by an intimate partner, of those, up to 5% result in pregnancy. Abuse during pregnancy may compromise the mother and child relationship and child behavioral functioning. This study compared outcomes at birth for 284 mothers within three subgroups of abused women. The three subgroups of abused women are: (1) abused women who report conception rape (n=13), (2) abused women who report abuse during pregnancy (n=67), and (3) abused women who report no abuse during pregnancy (n=204).
Procedure: Two hundred and eighty-four abused women responded to questions about abuse during pregnancy, conception rape, birth outcomes, abuse during the first six months post delivery, screening for abuse during pregnancy, and questions related to child behavioral functioning.
Data Sources: An investigator derived ten-item questionnaire was constructed to investigate birth outcomes that included: mode of birth, infant birth weight, presence of putting the baby to breast to feed before hospital discharge, and the mother child relationship. The Achenback Child Behavior Checklist was used to provide a parental report of child behavioral problems. Research questions were analyzed using non-parametric analyses.
Results: The relationship between the abuse during pregnancy group and abuse during the first six months post delivery was significant (p < .001). Significant findings related to child behavior functioning in the abuse during pregnancy group were found for internalizing behaviors ((p .002), externalizing problems (p <.001), and total problems (p <.001). No significant associations were measured between abuse groups and delivery method, birth weight, breastfeeding, effects of abuse on the mother child relationship, and whether or not safety plan information was given. Most women (76%) in the study were not screened for abuse during pregnancy.
Conclusions: Women abused during pregnancy are at greater risk for abuse following pregnancy and there appears to be an intergenerational effect whereby women abused during pregnancy are more likely to have children with compromised functioning. Abuse screening programs for all pregnant women are urgently needed.