Study Links Abuse During Pregnancy To Postpartum Mental Health Issues

Apr 18, 2014

Credit Duke Medecine

A new study from North Carolina State University suggests women who suffer abuse during pregnancy are more likely to suffer post-partum mental health problems.

The study was one part of a more comprehensive program looking at health and wellness. The 100 women selected were of a demographic and social status not typically associated with high levels of abuse, which makes some of the finding all the more surprising.

The vast majority (84%) reported some form of abuse from a partner before pregnancy and more than two-thirds, during pregnancy.

The researchers found that psychological abuse – verbal and emotional abuse – was associated with stress and PTSD. Physical abuse was associated with depression, OCD and PTSD. Sexual abuse was associated with stress, depression and PTSD.

Sarah Desmarais, the study's lead author, said this is just a first step. She says recognizing the level of abuse even at a time in a woman's life when one would expect levels to be lower, means more work needs to be done identifying abuse, and training healthcare professionals to deal with the trauma appropriately.