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Objectives: To differentiate between forms of intimate partner violence (IPV)(victim only, perpetrator only, or participating in reciprocal violence) and examine risk profiles and pregnancy outcomes.

Design: Prospective

Setting: Washington, DC, July 2001 to October 2003

Sample: 1044 high-risk African-American pregnant women who participated in a randomized controlled trial to address IPV, depression, smoking, and environmental tobacco smoke exposure.

Methods: Multivariable linear and logistic regression

Main outcome measures: Low and very low birth weight, preterm and very preterm birth

Results: 5% of women were victims only, 12% were perpetrators only, 27% participated in reciprocal violence, and 55% reported no IPV. Women reporting reciprocal violence in the past year were more likely to drink, use illicit drugs, and experience environmental tobacco smoke exposure and were less likely to be very happy about their pregnancies. Women reporting any type of IPVwere more likely to be depressed than those reporting no IPV. Women experiencing reciprocal violence reported highest levels of depression. Women who were victims of IPV were more likely to give birth prior prematurely and deliver low and very low birth weight infants.

Conclusions: We conclude that women were at highest risk for pregnancy risk factors when they participated in reciprocal violence and thus might be at higher risk for long-term consequences, but women who were victims of intimate partner violence were more likely to show proximal negative outcomes like preterm birth and low birth weight. Different types of interventions may be needed for these two forms of intimate partner violence.


This is the accepted manuscript of the article that originally appeared in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

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