Domestic violence and perinatal outcomes - a prospective cohort study from Nepal.


Department of Public Health and Nursing, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, NTNU, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway. [Email]


BACKGROUND : Domestic violence is one of the most common forms of violence against women. Domestic violence during pregnancy is associated with adverse perinatal and maternal outcomes. We aimed to assess whether domestic violence was associated with mode of delivery, low birthweight and preterm birth in two sites in Nepal.
METHODS : In this prospective cohort study we consecutively recruited 2004 pregnant women during antenatal care at two hospitals between June 2015 and September 2016. The Abuse Assessment Screen (modified) was used to assess fear and violence. Having ever experienced either fear or violence was defined as any domestic violence. Obstetric outcomes were obtained from hospital records for 1381 (69%) women, selecting singleton pregnancies only. Mode of delivery was assessed as birth by cesarean section or not. A birthweight of less than 2500 g was defined as low birthweight and preterm birth as birth before completion of 37 weeks gestation. Descriptive and multiple logistic regression analyses were performed to assess associations.
RESULTS : Twenty percent of the women reported any domestic violence. Among all 1381 women, 37.6% gave birth by cesarean section. Of those women who delivered by cesarean section, 84.7% had an emergency cesarean section. Less than 10% of the babies were born prematurely and 13.5% were born with low birthweight. We found no significant association between exposure to any domestic violence during pregnancy and risk of a low birthweight baby or birth by cesarean section. However, having experienced both violence and fear was significantly associated with giving birth to a preterm infant [aOR 2.33 (95% CI;1.10-4.73)].
CONCLUSIONS : Domestic violence is common in Nepal. This is a potential risk factor for severe morbidity and mortality in newborns. We found that the risk of having a preterm baby was higher for pregnant women who experienced both fear and violence. This should be recognized by the health sector. In this study, no significant differences were found in the rate of cesarean section nor low birthweight for women who had experienced any domestic violence compared to those who did not.


Cesarean section,Domestic violence,Low birthweight,Perinatal outcomes,Preterm birth,