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VALLEY ROUNDUP | San Fernando

Program Targets Violence Against Pregnant Women

October 19, 1998|HOLLY EDWARDS

A new program called "Operation Safe Pregnancy" will train health-care providers at the Northeast Valley Health Corporation in San Fernando to identify and assist pregnant women suffering domestic violence.

According to statistics, many of these women and their children are at risk. Nearly 25% of pregnant women suffer domestic violence, and thousands of babies are born each year with such problems as fetal fractures, low birth weight and infection due to the battering of women during pregnancy, said Anne Akerman, executive director of WAVE, or Women Advancing the Valley through Education, Economics and Empowerment.

The new "Operation Safe Pregnancy" training program is being initiated through an $8,000 grant from the Los Angeles Women's Foundation.

"We want to increase the knowledge and awareness of abuse of pregnant women for health-care providers, and we also intend to educate women and girls about the serious effects of battering during pregnancy," Akerman said.

If the program is successful, Akerman said, she hopes to expand it to other health-care agencies in the area. "A lot of times, health-care providers fail to identify the problem," she said. "And even when they do, they may not know what to do with the information. We hope the program will expand the abilities of health-care providers to identify, assess and make referrals for pregnant women who are suffering abuse."

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