Domestic violence 'leads to post-natal depression'
Published 22/06/2011 | 11:27
Women who suffer domestic violence during pregnancy are much more likely to experience post-natal depression, according to research.
Those who suffered emotional or physical abuse while pregnant were two-and-a-half times more likely to have depressive symptoms when the child was eight weeks old (25 per cent), compared to those who had not (10 per cent).
Researchers from King's College University's Institute of Psychiatry analysed results from 13,617 women who were asked their experiences of domestic abuse and assessed for post-natal depression.
The results estimated that, by the time they were 18 weeks' pregnant, six per had experienced emotional cruelty and two per cent physical cruelty.
Louise Howard, professor of women’s mental health, said: "This strong link between antenatal and postnatal violence should help health workers identify future problems.
"Pregnancy is a time when women will come into frequent contact with health professionals and therefore are more likely to talk about domestic violence being suffered and psychiatric symptoms."
The study is published today in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Professor Philip Steer, the journal's editor-in-chief, added: "This is an important study as it highlights the issue of domestic violence which was also highlighted in the recent UK confidential enquiry into maternal deaths.
"Antenatal domestic violence has been shown to lead to various other problems such as postnatal violence, depression and child behavioural problems.
"It is therefore essential that more is done to help women at an early stage and provide them with the support they need to ensure the future health of the baby."