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Abused women seek more infant health care, MU study finds
Date:12/16/2008

COLUMBIA, Mo. Pregnant women who experience intimate partner violence (IPV) before, during or after pregnancy often suffer adverse health effects, including depression, post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and chronic mental illness. Now, University of Missouri researchers have found that women who experience intimate partner violence are more likely to seek health care for their infants than non-abused women. Awareness of mothers with frequent infant health concerns can help health care providers identify and provide aid to women in abusive relationships.

"Health care providers should view frequent calls or visits for common infant health concerns as red flags," said Linda Bullock, professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing. "Although it can be difficult for providers to see beyond immediate concerns, the findings suggest that considering only voiced concerns may represent lost opportunities to intervene on more critical health matters that impact mothers and children. Providers have a chance to help mothers who may not voice concerns about intimate partner violence."

In the study, more than 60 percent of women who experienced intimate partner violence sought health consultations for their infants. Abused women were more likely to seek infant care, reported more stress, were more depressed, and had less support than non-abused women. Less than 54 percent of non-abused women sought infant health consultations. Bullock said significant maternal stress may be a contributing factor to increased infant care. Additionally, women may use their children's health care problems as a way to seek help for themselves.

Bullock recommends that pediatric and women's clinics have a routine policy of IPV screening and education for all women. Women may not voice concerns about their own safety, but multiple calls and visits to physicians can be signs of IPV.

"The most powerful intervention may be as simple as repeated screenin
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Contact: Emily Smith
SmithEA@missouri.edu
573-882-3346
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert  

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