Background: In the United States, rates of maternal morbidity and mortality (MMM) are
high compared with other high-income countries and are characterized by significant racial/ethnic
disparities. Typically, research on MMM focuses on obstetrical problems. Less research examines
the role of intimate partner violence (IPV). Maternal health, IPV, and their intersection are linked
with the impacts of social determinants of health.
Objective: We sought to understand the intersection of MMM and IPV in the United States, particularly
data issues that hinder research in this area and the resulting knowledge gaps.
Methods: We identified major articles of interest regarding maternal morbidity and mortality and
IPV in the United States and drafted a mini review based on relevant information.
Results: Despite the prevalence of IPV during pregnancy, the intersection of maternal health and
IPV has not been widely reviewed or discussed.
Conclusion: There are a number of limitations in surveillance activities and data collection that
underestimate the impact of IPV on MMM. Importantly, women who die by homicide or suicide—
which in many cases is linked with IPV—are not counted as pregnancy-related deaths in the United
States under the current definition. Establishing separate panels of local experts in maternal health
or maternal mortality review committees (MMRCs) that are dedicated to examining violent deaths
and use of the Maternal Mortality Review Information Application system would likely improve
data accuracy of pregnancy-associated deaths. Based on the literature reviewed and limitations of
current data, there are significant knowledge gaps on the effects of IPV and maternal health.