Health: Baby joy turns to abuse for women

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Expecting a baby should be a joyful experience, but for many women it brings only fear and the threat of violence.

The claim was made by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists which said that between 2-20 per cent of pregnant women arriving at antenatal clinics have experienced severe physical, emotional or sexual violence from their partners.

Violence could be triggered for the first time during pregnancy, or pregnancy may increase the frequency of violent assaults, it was claimed.

Certain gynaecological symptoms, such as pelvic pain, recurrent infection and sexual difficulties, were "significantly associated" with abuse.

The College was launching a programme yesterday to raise awareness of the problem among obstetricians and gynaecologists.

One aim was to help specialists identify and cope with the consequences of violence suffered by their patients.