Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Do you know the leading cause of death among pregnant women?

I try not to overuse terms like "shocking" but today's News & Oberver brought truly disturbing news. Homicide is a leading cause of death among pregnant women. With all I have studied about motherhood, I had no idea that pregnant women and mothers of newborns faced an increased risk of homicide as compared to the general population of American women.

Reporter Mandy Locke presented news from many studies that document this risk. A Washington Post analysis of homicides from 2002 found that in about two-thirds of the cases, the motive for the slaying had to do with the pregnancy.

I recommend Locke's entire article to you, Pregnancy, violent death linked. There is obviously no good explanation for this situation, but experts propose theories that could lead to understanding, which is necessary to devise preventative strategeis.

"During a pregnancy, the woman tends to care of herself and starts doing her own thinking, said Jill Duszyski, a counselor who treats admitted batterers for the state Department of Correction. "For a batterer, he's bound to feel less powerful. He'll strike."

Locke reports that on the flip side, the woman could be in danger, too, if she appears fragile and weak. She may also feel less empowered to leave when she is pregnant and wants a father for the baby or needs financial help.

There's no good news here, but an important risk factor to be aware of. The article concludes with Professor Phyllis Sharps of Johns Hopkins pointing out, "We have a myth and a fairy tale that this is a time when everyone's joyous. For some families, it's a vulnerable, scary time."

The Purple Ribbon Campaign to end domestic violence was not mentioned in this particular N&O article, but I am including the image in this post to remind us that all women need our support to end violence.


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