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Disability and interpersonal violence in the perinatal period


Objective — To compare the risk of interpersonal violence experienced by pregnant and postpartum individuals with physical disabilities, sensory disabilities, or intellectual or developmental disabilities with those without disabilities, and to examine whether a prepregnancy history of interpersonal violence puts individuals with disabilities, at excess risk of interpersonal violence in the perinatal period.

Method — This population-based study included all individuals aged 15–49 years with births in Ontario, Canada, from 2004 to 2019. Individuals with physical (n=147,414), sensory (n=47,459), intellectual or developmental (n=2,557), or multiple disabilities (n=9,598) were compared with 1,594,441 individuals without disabilities. The outcome was any emergency department visit, hospital admission, or death related to physical, sexual, or psychological violence between fertilization and 365 days postpartum. Relative risks (RRs) were adjusted for baseline social and health characteristics. Relative excess risk due to interaction (RERI) was estimated from the joint effects of disability and prepregnancy violence history; RERI>0 indicated positive interaction.

Results — Individuals with physical (0.8%), sensory (0.7%), intellectual or developmental (5.3%), or multiple disabilities (1.8%) were more likely than those without disabilities (0.5%) to experience perinatal interpersonal violence. The adjusted RR was 1.40 (95% CI 1.31–1.50) in those with physical disabilities, 2.39 (95% CI 1.98–2.88) in those with intellectual or developmental disabilities, and 1.96 (95% CI 1.66–2.30) in those with multiple disabilities. Having both a disability and any violence history produced a positive interaction for perinatal interpersonal violence (adjusted RERI 0.87; 95% CI 0.47–1.29).

Conclusion — The perinatal period is a time of relative high risk for interpersonal violence among individuals with pre-existing disabilities, especially those with a history of interpersonal violence.



Brown Hk, Saunders N, Chen S,Leslie K, Vigod S, Fung K, Guttmann A, Havercamp S, Parish SL, Ray JG, Lunsky Y. Obstet Gynecol. 2022; Oct 6 [Epub ahead of print].

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