Prenatal care in adult women exposed to childhood sexual abuse

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Abstract

Aims:

Several case reports show a negative impact of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) on prenatal care. The study aimed to systematically investigate this association in a larger study group.

Methods:

CSA was investigated by face-to-face interviews and by a modified questionnaire developed by Wyatt. All study participants completed a self-administered questionnaire designed to investigate the consequences of CSA on prenatal care during adulthood. Data from 85 women after CSA were compared to those of 170 matched women without such experiences.

Results:

Women exposed to CSA had fewer than five prenatal consultations more often than unexposed women (26%/7%; P<0.0001). Of the 85 women with a positive history for CSA, 9.4% had been asked for such antecedents, 36.5% had intense memories on original abuse situations during pregnancy, 56.6% mentioned specific consequences of CSA on prenatal care and 61.2% were satisfied with obstetrical support. Exposed women (62.4%) felt significantly less prepared for labor than unexposed women (75.9%) (P<0.0001).

Conclusions:

CSA experiences are associated with impaired prenatal care. These results underscore the compelling need to improve prenatal care in women exposed to CSA through better education of obstetricians regarding the effects of CSA and in their ability to provide empathetic professional support.

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