Domestic abuse

Domestic abuse

Domestic abuse is one the of main risk factors for postnatal depression (59) and can negatively impact the emotional health and social development of infants (135).

Figure 29: Impact of domestic abuse during the perinatal period. Adapted from: For Baby’s Sake

  • Experiencing domestic abuse during the perinatal period is associated with:
    • 3 times greater risk of depression (136).
    • An increased risk of anxiety, PTSD and suicide (134).
    • 1.9 times greater risk of pre-term birth (137).
    • 2.1 times greater risk of low birth weight (137).
  • Domestic abuse can also lead to miscarriage, foetal injury, stillbirth and maternal death (134).

Local population

Domestic abuse often begins or worsens during pregnancy (59): around 4 to 8% of pregnant woman experience physical abuse (133). Some groups are more likely to experience domestic abuse: it has been estimated that up to 38% of low-income young mothers experience physical abuse during pregnancy (134).

  • In North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust (NWAFT), 214 women self-reported having experienced domestic abuse in 2022. This included both current and historic abuse. Approximately 40% were referred in to perinatal mental health support.
  • Data from Cambridge University Hospital (CUH) will be added here shortly.


59. Psarros A. Mothers’ voices: Exploring experiences of maternity and health in low income women and children from diverse ethnic backgrounds [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Jan 31]. Available from:
133. Gazmararian JA, Lazorick S, Spitz AM, Ballard TJ, Saltzman LE, Marks JS. Prevalence of violence against pregnant women. Vol. 275, JAMA. 1996.
134. Krug EG, Mercy JA, Dahlberg LL, Zwi AB. The world report on violence and health. Lancet. 2002;360(9339).
135. National Institute of Clinical Exellence. Domestic violence and abuse : how health services , social care and the organisations they work with can respond effectively. NICE public health guidance 50. 2014;(February).
136. Howard LM, Oram S, Galley H, Trevillion K, Feder G. Domestic Violence and Perinatal Mental Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Vol. 10, PLoS Medicine. 2013.
137. Donovan BM, Spracklen CN, Schweizer ML, Ryckman KK, Saftlas AF. Intimate partner violence during pregnancy and the risk for adverse infant outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Vol. 123, BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 2016.