Maternal morbidity associated with violence and maltreatment from husbands and in-laws: Findings from Indian slum communities

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) victimization is linked to a broad range of negative maternal health outcomes. However, it is unclear whether IPV is directly related to poor maternal outcomes or whether IPV is a marker for other forms of chronic, mundane maltreatment of women that stem from the culture of gender inequity that also gives rise to IPV. To determine the prevalence of non-violent forms of gender-based household maltreatment by husbands and in-laws (GBHM), and violence from in-laws (ILV) and husbands (IPV) against women during the peripregnancy period (during and in the year prior to pregnancy); to assess relative associations of GBHM, ILV and IPV with maternal health. Methods: Cross-sectional data were collected from women < 6 months postpartum (n = 1,039, ages 15-35 years) seeking child immunization in Mumbai, India. Associations of IPV, ILV and GBHM during the peripregnancy period with maternal health (prenatal care in first trimester, no weight gain, pain during intercourse, high blood pressure, vaginal bleeding, premature rupture of membranes, premature birth) were evaluated. Results: One in three women (34.0 %) reported IPV, 4.8 % reported ILV, and 48.5 % reported GBHM during the peripregnancy period. After adjusting for other forms of abuse, IPV related to pain during intercourse (AOR = 1.79); ILV related to not receiving first trimester antenatal care (AOR = 0.49), and GBHM remained associated with premature rupture of membranes (AOR = 2.28), pain during intercourse (AOR = 1.60), and vaginal bleeding (AOR = 1.80). Conclusion: After adjusting for ILV and IPV, peripregnancy GBHM remained significantly associated with multiple forms of maternal morbidity, suggesting that GBHM is a prevalent and reliable indicator of maternal health risk.