Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 802–806 | Cite as

Physical Abuse Around the Time of Pregnancy Among Women With Disabilities



Women with disabilities are at greater risk for physical abuse than women without disabilities. However, no previous population-based studies have examined physical abuse against women with disabilities around the time of pregnancy, a critical period for mother and child. The objective of this study was to describe the prevalence of physical abuse before and during pregnancy among a representative sample of Massachusetts women with and without disabilities. Data from the 2007–2008 Massachusetts Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) were analyzed in 2010. Disability prevalence was 4.9% (95% CI = 3.9–6.2) among Massachusetts women giving birth during 2007–2008. The prevalence of physical abuse during the 12-months before pregnancy among women with disabilities was 13.6% (95% CI = 7.2–24.0) compared to 2.8% for women without disabilities (95% CI = 2.1–3.7). Similarly, 8.1% (95% CI = 4.0–15.7) of women with disabilities compared to 2.3% (95% CI = 1.7–3.1) of women without disabilities experienced physical abuse during pregnancy. Multivariate analyses indicated that women with disabilities were more likely to report physical abuse before pregnancy (OR = 4.3, 95% CI = 1.9–9.7), during pregnancy (OR = 2.8, 95% CI = 1.1–7.1), or during either time period (OR = 3.2, 95% CI = 1.4–7.1) than women without disabilities while controlling for maternal age, education, race/Hispanic ethnicity, marital status and household poverty status. No difference was observed by disability status in the likelihood of prenatal-care providers talking to women about physical abuse. These analyses reveal disproportionate prevalence of physical abuse before and during pregnancy among women with disabilities. Screening for physical abuse and timely referral of women in need of assistance are critical to optimize health outcomes for both mother and child.


Physical abuse Violence Disabilities Women Pregnancy 



Monika Mitra is supported by the Massachusetts Medicaid Infrastructure and Comprehensive Employment Opportunities Grant which is funded by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CFDA No. 93.768). Emily Lu is supported by the Massachusetts PRAMS project which is supported in part by grant No. 1 UR6 DP000513-01 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The authors thank the Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology Program, Applied Sciences Branch, Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Public Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Services and Resources Administration for scientific guidance on this analysis and manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Family Medicine and Community Health/Center for Health Policy and ResearchUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolShrewsburyUSA
  2. 2.Massachusetts Department of Public HealthBostonUSA

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