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The impact of domestic violence and depressive symptoms on preterm birth in South India

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Abstract

Purpose

India has the highest absolute number of maternal deaths, preterm birth cases, and under-5 mortality in the world, as well as high domestic violence (DV) rates. We sought to examine the impact of DV and its psychosocial correlates on pregnancy and birth outcomes.

Methods

Women seeking antenatal care in Tamil Nadu, South India (N = 150) were assessed during pregnancy, and birth outcomes were abstracted from medical records after the babies were born.

Results

We found that psychological abuse (OR 3.9; 95 % CI 1.19–12.82) and mild or greater depressive symptoms (OR 3.3; 95 % CI 0.99–11.17) were significantly associated with increased risk of preterm birth. Physical abuse was also associated with increased risk of preterm birth, but this was not statistically significant (OR 1.9; 95 % CI 0.59–6.19). In each of the above adjusted models, low maternal education was associated with increased risk of preterm birth, in the analysis with depressive symptoms OR 0.18, CI 0.04–0.86 and in the analyses with psychological abuse OR 0.19, CI 0.04–0.91.

Conclusions

These findings suggest that future research should focus on understanding the psychosocial antecedents to preterm birth, to better target interventions and improve maternal child health in limited resource settings.

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Acknowledgments

This study was funded by a seed grant from the University of Washington’s Center for the Global Health of Women, Adolescents, and Children (Global WACh). We would like to give special thanks to the participants of this study and our research assistants, Priya Kundem and Hema Latha.

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Correspondence to Deepa Rao.

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On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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Rao, D., Kumar, S., Mohanraj, R. et al. The impact of domestic violence and depressive symptoms on preterm birth in South India. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 51, 225–232 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-015-1167-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-015-1167-2

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