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Pregnancy-Associated Assault Hospitalizations Selected U.S. States, 1997: Exploring the Incidence and Risk for Hospitalized Assaults Against Women During Pregnancy

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2003
126 pages
Publication Series
This federally funded report describes the incidence and patterns of assault-related hospitalized injury among pregnant women, compares the rate of violence-related hospitalization to all women of reproductive age, and the promotion of the use of a standard technique to measure the burden of serious and severe non-fatal violence against pregnant women.
Violence against women during pregnancy is an issue that creates broad interest. Injuries to pregnant women are of special concern as they increase the risk of fetal loss and pre-term labor. This U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice study concentrated on hospitalized cases and examined the issue among women hospitalized for their injury in an attempt to quantify and describe the incidence of hospitalized assaults among pregnant women. The study population comprised over one-half of the U.S. population in 1997. The study examined the specific hypothesis that “the hospitalization rate for assault is higher among pregnant women than all women of reproductive age, ages 15-49, once controlled for age, race, and severity of injuries. Overall, after age and severity adjustment, there was no significantly elevated rate ratio; however, moderate increases remained among the youngest women (15-19 years of age) and for firearm-related assaults. The study also demonstrated that both age and race-specific rate ratios were markedly reduced once they were adjusted for injury severity. While the report quantified the propensity for pregnant women to be admitted for more minor assaultive injuries, it could not tell why this occurred. Some explanations include that given identical injuries, pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized due to medical concern over the fetus, the desire of clinicians to protect pregnant women, and pregnant women having more contact with the health care system with access being easier. Overall, the findings can be applied to better prioritize and target effective injury prevention efforts aimed toward young women for the benefit of both the mother and fetus. References, appendix, and exhibits

Date Published: January 1, 2003