The Spain-based study reflects the reality of other countries with similar sociocultural environments, the researchers noted. While 21 percent of women suffer emotional violence during pregnancy, 3.6 percent encounter physical or sexual violence, the finding showed.

What is more, 36.1 percent of those who reported physical violence claimed that it happened "very often" or "daily"."With these figures, detection of violence should be routinely included in pregnancy management, and protocols for action should be established where necessary," said main author of the study Stella Martin de las Heras, researcher at University of Granada.

The data was gathered from a sample of 779 women who gave birth in 15 state hospitals in Andalusia, Spain. The participating midwives were trained to collect the data, which took place in full anonymity and confidentiality.

The study also looked at the socio-demographic factors that could be linked to violence during pregnancy. Pregnant women, who maintained non-committed relationships were more likely to face violence.

By contrast, women who worked were better protected  against such violence. The study was published in the journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica.

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