Monday, 01 Dec, 2008 Health & Fitness

Scientists Study the Connection between Abortion and Mental Health


The latest study carried out by scientists from the University of Otago, Christchurch, and funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand, showed that women are 30 percent more likely to develop mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, if they have an abortion. However, in the latest issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, scientists noted that their findings refer to a "middle-of-the-road" position on abortion. They say that the study does not refer to women who strongly decided to leave the baby or to have an abortion.

Conditions that are mostly linked with abortions are anxiety disorders and substance use. Scientists did not discover any other pregnancy effects that would be consistently linked with an increased risk or mental health problems. But the recent findings are already taken into consideration in New Zealand and UK. It is worth mentioning that in these countries more than 90 percent of abortions are sanctioned on the grounds that the operation might have a serious impact of mental health.

The lead researchers involved in the study, David Fergusson, John Horwood and Dr Joseph Boden, analyzed the pregnancy and the metal health history in over 500 patients, who took part in the research from birth to the age of 30. All women involved in the study were interviewed 6 times: first time when they were 15 and the last time at the age of 30. They were asked about their pregnancies, whether these were wanted or unwanted and the outcomes. The first reactions to the pregnancy were analyzed on a 5-point scale, ranging from very happy to very unhappy, informs the officials website of the University of Otago.

In addition, scientist evaluated the women's mental health during each interview. Thus they were able to see whether patients met the diagnostic condition for depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and illicit drug dependence. Scientists also took into consideration a number of other factors that could be linked with amplified risks of different pregnancy and/or mental health outcomes. Some of these factors included: social-economic environment during childhood, childhood family functioning, parental adjustment, abuse during childhood, personal characteristics and educational realization.

The results of the study showed that 284 women had 686 pregnancies before they achieved the age of 30. From 686 pregnancies there were 153 abortions, which occurred in 117 women, 138 cases of pregnancy loss, 66 live births resulting from an unwanted pregnancy and 329 live births from wanted pregnancy with no adverse reaction.

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