Induced first-trimester abortion not associated with mental health risk

January 01, 0001

Induced first-trimester abortion not associated with mental health risk

These Danish investigators sought to determine whether induced abortion is associated with an increased risk of subsequent psychiatric problems. They conducted a population-based cohort study that involved linking information from the Danish Civil Registration system to the Danish Psychiatric Central Register and the Danish National Register of Patients. The information consisted of data for girls and women with no record of mental disorders during the 1995-2007 period who had a first-trimester induced abortion or a first childbirth during that period. They estimated the rates of first-time psychiatric contact (an inpatient admission or outpatient visit) for any type of mental disorder within the 12 months after the abortion or childbirth as compared with the 9-month period preceding the event.

They found: "The incidence rates of first psychiatric contact per 1000 person-years among girls and women who had a first abortion were 14.6 before abortion and 15.2 after abortion. The corresponding rates among girls and women who had a first childbirth were 3.9 before delivery and 6.7 post partum. The relative risk of a psychiatric contact did not differ significantly after abortion as compared with before abortion but did increase after childbirth as compared with before childbirth."

The authors concluded: "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."

If mental health problems don’t increase after abortion it’s difficult to assert causality.

For the full abstract, click here.

N Engl J Med 364:332-339, 27 January 2011
© 2011 to the Massachusetts Medical Society
Induced First-Trimester Abortion and Risk of Mental Disorder. Trine Munk-Olsen, Thomas Munk Laursen, Carsten B. Pedersen, Ojvind Lidegaard, and Preben Bo Mortensen. Correspondence to Dr. Munk-Olsen: [email protected]

Category: W. Pregnancy, Family Planning, P. Psychological. Keywords: voluntary abortion, first-trimester, mental health, cohort study, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Linda French, Toledo, Ohio. Posted on Global Family Doctor 8 February 2011

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.