Pregnancy

The #1 Killer Of Pregnant Women Is Murder Or Suicide

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The  1 Killer Of Pregnant Women Is Murder Or Suicide shutterstock 86129626 jpgConsidering how obsessed our current parenting culture is with keeping pregnant women safe, whether it be from the foods they eat or the accessories they wear, it’s significant to point out that mercury or wearing high heels isn’t the top killer of pregnant women. Nor are health problems caused by eating too much fish or taking a sip of tea. Not even close. In the United States, expectant mothers are more likely to die at the hands of their partner than of pregnancy-related medical problems.

Reuters reports that about half of the pregnant women who died violently had a fight of some kind with their former or current partner prior to their death. In a study that pulled date from 2003 to 2007, the number of women murdered who were pregnant or who had a child under the age of one stayed quite consistent — as did suicides.

Dr. Christie Palladino, the author of the study, said that deaths from medical problems during pregnancy have declined in recent decades primarily due to advances in technology. But the number of injury-related deaths for pregnant women have remained the same.

To put the data into perspective, consider that about three out of every 100,000 women who are pregnant or have a baby are murdered, and two out of every 100,000 mothers kill themselves. Yet, fewer than two out of every 100,000 women die from either pregnancy-related bleeding, improper development of the placenta, or preeclampsia (a complication of high blood pressure that can occur during pregnancy).

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Also, the likelihood of a woman being murdered or committing suicide varied by age and race. White or Native American unmarried women over 40 were more likely to kill themselves. Older women and those under the age of 24 were at greater risk of being murdered, as well as African American and unmarried women.

Even though these numbers are relatively small, Dr. Linda Chambliss, director of maternal fetal medicine, says that we’re talking about deaths that are preventable. These findings are prompting experts to contemplate implementing more screening and follow ups regarding domestic problems during pregnancy exams. Because pregnancy presents a time when women are regularly seeing health care providers, Dr. Palladino says that such appointments are strong opportunities to intervene in instances of domestic abuse.

And while we’re working to come to the aid of abused pregnant women, how about also abolishing the notion that abusing women is sexy or that rape and murder are jokes befit for our sons. Surely, there is some cultural culpability there too.

(photo: Shutterstock)

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