I wanted to share with you recent research I came across via Science Daily that addresses the impact of childhood sexual abuse on pregnancy. The study, conducted by Professor Rachel Lev-Wiesel, Head of the Graduate School of Creative Arts Therapies at the University of Haifa, Lee Yampolsky and Dr. Tzachi Ben Zion, found that pregnant survivors of childhood sexual abuse suffered higher distress levels and resulting heightened poor health, increasing the probability of high risk pregnancy compared to women who had experienced other types trauma or who reported no trauma.
Professor Lev-Wiesel states:
Even when a woman willingly and happily commences a pregnancy, it seems that the body relates the sexual act that created the pregnancy with the abuse trauma, evoking negative feelings which can then be expressed in physical and gynecological problems
A group of 1,830 pregnant women participating in the study, which is due to be published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing (January 2011), were divided into high- and low-risk groups, which were further divided into three subgroups: those who were victims of child sexual abuse, those who experienced other types of trauma in childhood, and those who reported experiencing no trauma. Compared with women who reported no prior trauma, those who had been sexually abused in childhood experienced higher levels of depression and more post-traumatic symptoms. The PTSD symptoms most commonly experienced were detachment and avoidance.
This study lends support to the idea that childhood sexual abuse can have far reaching consequences, including an impact on adult physical health. In terms of pregnancy, the researcher calls for health care professionals “to recognize and address the psychological state of pregnant child sexual abuse survivors.”
University of Haifa (2010, April 6). Child sexual abuse: A risk factor for pregnancy, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 6, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/04/100406073255.htm