A new study, published in the European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, has revealed that women who have insufficient check-ups during their pregnancy are more likely to be suffering from physical violence at the hands of their partners.
The study, led by the University of Granada, analysed a cohort of 779 women whose pregnancies were being monitored across 15 public hospitals in Andalusia, Spain.
Conditions of anonymity and confidentiality
The researchers used the Index of Spouse Abuse (ISA), which is a validated international screening tool, to detect the cases of physical and psychological violence perpetrated by the woman's partner during the pregnancy. The experts said that they maintained strictest conditions of anonymity and confidentiality during the process of case identification.
The responsibility of data collection was given to midwives who had previously been trained to detect the signs of gender violence. According to the study results, 9.8 percent of pregnant women in Andalusia failed to have adequate check-ups during their pregnancy. This indicates that the total number of antenatal appointments at hospitals or health-centres they attend is lower than what was recommended.
Detection of gender violence is crucial
Stella Martín de las Heras, Professor of Legal and Forensic Medicine at the UGR and lead author of this study, said: "The detection of gender violence during pregnancy is crucial because it can affect both the mother's health and that of the new-born. In addition, inadequate pregnancy check-ups can put the health of the mother and the foetus at risk."
The professor further added: "As the role of the healthcare professionals dealing directly with pregnant women is critical, they must be alert to any warning signs."
There have been several reports indicating pregnancy issues. Recently, a study claimed that children who are born to mothers who were obese during pregnancy may suffer from underdeveloped motor skills and a lower IQ.
It is not altogether clear why obesity in pregnancy would affect a child later, though previous research has found links between a mother's diet and cognitive development, such as higher IQ scores in kids whose mothers have more of certain fatty acids found in fish.