Abortion May Not Increase Psychiatric Problems

February 11, 2011

Women do not appear more likely to seek out psychiatric help after a first-trimester abortion than before one, according to research published in the Jan. 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Women do not appear more likely to seek out psychiatric help after a first-trimester abortion than before one, according to research published in the Jan. 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

To investigate the hypothesis that induced abortion is associated with an increased risk for mental health problems, Trine Munk-Olsen, Ph.D., of Aarhus University in Denmark, and colleagues examined data on girls and women with no record of mental disorders who had a first-trimester induced abortion or first childbirth between 1995 and 2007. The researchers found that, among the girls and women who had an abortion, 14.6 percent had a first psychiatric visit within nine months before and 15.2 percent within 12 months after the abortion. In contrast, 3.9 percent of girls and women who experienced a first birth had a psychiatric visit before the birth, while 6.7 percent did so afterward. The relative risk of psychiatric contact was not significantly different before versus after abortion but did increase significantly after childbirth versus before. "The finding that the incidence rate of psychiatric contact was similar before and after a first-trimester abortion does not support the hypothesis that there is an increased risk of mental disorders after a first-trimester induced abortion," the authors write. One author disclosed receiving lecture fees and research funding from Bayer Schering Pharma. 

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