Sexual assault in pregnancy

A. J. Satin, D. L. Hemsell, I. C. Stone, S. Theriot, G. D. Wendel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Little is known about the acute effects of sexual assault on pregnant victims and the outcome of their gestations. A retrospective review of sexual assault victims in Dallas County from 1983–1988 revealed that 114 of 5734 (2%) were pregnant. There were 0.55 and 0.75 gravid sexual assault victims per 1000 deliveries for Dallas County and Parkland Memorial Hospital, respectively. The purposes of this study were to examine patient demographics, forensic evidence, and patterns of injury in pregnant victims compared with 114 matched nonpregnant sexual assault victims, and to compare pregnancy outcome with that of the Parkland Memorial Hospital obstetric population. The typical victim was a black, parous gravida in her twenties at a mean gestational age of 15 weeks, without previous prenatal care. Vulvar (95%), oral (27%), and anal (6%) penetration were reported with similar frequency in both groups. The detection of whole and motile sperm from the vaginal specimens was similar in pregnant and nonpregnant women. Physical trauma was more common in nonpregnant victims (63 versus 43%; P < .004), especially genital trauma (21 versus 5%; P < .001). Injury was more common to the head and neck or extremities than to the abdomen, chest, or back in both groups. There was no difference in the pattern of trauma by gestational age, but there were no truncal injuries in women at 20 weeks’ gestation or greater. There were no spontaneous abortions or deliveries within 4 weeks of the assault, but low birth weight delivery (24%) and preterm delivery (16%) were common. Sexual assault during pregnancy is accompanied by less physical trauma than in non-pregnancy and has little immediate effect on pregnancy outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-714
Number of pages5
JournalObstetrics and gynecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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