an After abortion

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

New study finds higher substance use rates among pregnant women who have had abortions.

A press release from The Elliott Institute summarizes a new study in the British Journal of Health Psychology: women with a history of induced abortion are three times more likely to use illegal drugs during a subsequent pregnancy.

An online abstract of the article, Substance use among pregnant women in the context of previous reproductive loss and desire for current pregnancy, says:

The research design involved interviewing women who gave birth in Washington DC hospitals during 1992. Interview data included pregnancy history (prior births, induced abortions, miscarriages, and stillbirths), desire for the pregnancy (wanted, not wanted, mistimed), socio-demographic information, timing of onset of prenatal care, and substance use (cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs) during pregnancy.

Results: A history of induced abortion was associated with elevated risk for maternal substance use of various forms; whereas other forms of perinatal loss (miscarriage and stillbirth) were not related to substance use.
It occurred to me, reading this, that another interesting study would be of weight gain during pregnancy of women with previous abortions versus weight gain during pregnancy when there is no history of abortion. Lots of people use food as a way to self-soothe, or as a numbing agent in the face of difficult emotions. I know women who gain 50, 60, 70 or more pounds during pregnancy. That's a lot of weight to gain in nine months. Could some of this eating be a way to numb uncomfortable emotions during pregnancy, when an earlier pregnancy was aborted?

See here for our compilation of other recent articles in medical journals about the emotional aftermath of abortion.

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