To examine prevalence, frequency, severity, and patterns of intimate partner violence (IPV) during the first 24 months' post partum within a multiethnic cohort of adolescents.
A prospective study of adolescent girls followed up for 24 months into the postpartum period. Follow-up surveys were completed at 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months' post partum. Overall, 74% completed at least 4 of the 5 follow-up surveys.
Postpartum unit at a university teaching hospital in Galveston, Tex.
A total of 570 adolescents (18 years or younger; 219 Mexican Americans, 182 African Americans, and 169 European Americans) completed face-to-face interviews within 48 hours of delivery and returned at least 4 of 5 follow-up surveys.
Main Outcome Measures
Prevalence of IPV and frequent and severe IPV.
Prevalence of IPV was highest at 3 months' post partum (21%) and lowest at 24 months (13%). The percentage of assaulted mothers who experienced severe IPV increased from 40% to 62% across this period. Seventy-five percent of mothers reporting IPV during pregnancy also reported IPV within 24 months following delivery. Of importance, 78% who experienced IPV during the first 3 postpartum months had not reported IPV before delivery. Ethnic differences in IPV were observed at 3, 6, and 18 months' post partum.
Adolescents are at high risk for experiencing IPV during the postpartum period. Frequent screening for IPV by health care practitioners is critical to maximize detection.