Abused women seek more infant healthcare

Dec. 26, 2008 at 11:42 PM

COLUMBIA, Mo., Dec. 26 (UPI) -- University of Missouri researchers say women who experience intimate partner violence are more likely to seek healthcare for their infants.

Linda Bullock of the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing said awareness of mothers with frequent infant health concerns can help healthcare providers identify and provide aid to women in abusive relationships.

"Healthcare providers should view frequent calls or visits for common infant health concerns as red flags," Bullock said in a statement. "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."

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.

Bullock recommends that pediatric and women's clinics have a routine policy of intimate partner violence 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 intimate partner violence, Bullock said.

The findings are published in the Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health.

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