A study conducted by the University of Porto Medical School and the Hospital S. Joao, Porto, Portugal has said that physical abuse during pregnancy may be associated with premature child birth.
Researchers conducted a survey on 2660 Caucasian women and assessed their experiences during pregnancy including the type and frequency of physical abuse, if any.
The findings revealed that 24 percent of the mothers of preterm newborn infants had experienced physical abuse during pregnancy compared with 8 percent of mothers of term newborn infants.
"The main strengths of this study are its large sample size, the high participation rate; the inclusion of women from virtually all social and economic strata and a broad range of pregnancy and delivery risk profiles," said Dr Teresa Rodrigues
"Assessment of violence exposure took place with guaranteed privacy, through face-to-face interviews that used highly trained personnel," she added.
She suggested that physicians should recognize such abuse as a risk factor for preterm delivery and address this issue with patients.
The study is published American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.