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Monday, October 24, 2005

"Compared to [low-income] women with no history of induced abortion, those with one prior abortion had a 144% higher risk for child physical abuse."

This is from a newly published (2005) study in the peer-reviewd Swedish medical journal Acta Paediatrica [Priscilla K. Coleman, Charles D. Maxey, Vincent M. Rue, and Catherine T. Coyle, "Associations between voluntary and involuntary forms of perintal loss and child maltreatment among low-income mothers," Acta Paediatrica 94, 2005].

If it was possible to get even sadder:
Compared to women with no history of perinatal loss, those with one loss (voluntary or involuntary) had a 99% higher risk for child physical abuse, and women with multiple losses were 189% more likely to physically abuse their children.... Finally, maternal history of multiple miscarriages and/or stillbirths compared to no history was associated with a 1237% increased risk of physical abuse and a 605% increased risk of neglect.
This surprises me deeply. The synopsis doesn't say if they controlled for any in this group who might also have suffered from a prior abortion.

This is not (nor are we) saying that abortion, miscarriage or stillbirth causes mothers to abuse later children. It's just a correlation. Wording below, in my opinion, should read "abortion is associated with increased risk..."

The Elliott Institute commented:
[A] 2002 study published in the Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology found that children whose mothers had a history of abortion tended to have less supportive home environments and more behavioral difficulties.

The current study showed that although a single involuntary pregnancy loss did not significantly increase the risk of child abuse or neglect, physical abuse was more common among women who had experienced multiple involuntary pregnancy losses. However, women who had repeat abortions were not more likely to abuse their children than women who had one abortion, although abortion increased the risk of physical abuse overall.

In addition, neither form of pregnancy loss was linked to child neglect, leading the authors to speculate that mothers with unresolved losses may be able to "go through the motions" of meeting their children's basic needs but have difficulty coping with issues such as anger or parent/child conflict.

"Regardless of the specific mechanisms at play, maternal history of one induced abortion does appear to be a marker for increased risk of physical abuse," the [study's] authors wrote.

They also noted that while emotional difficulties related to miscarriage or stillbirth are usually resolved within a few years, women who have abortions are often not given an opportunity to resolve feelings of grief or other related emotions. According to Elliot Institute director Dr. David Reardon, who has worked on more than a dozen published studies documenting abortion's negative impact on women, many women either feel a need to keep the abortion a secret or are told to simply "move on" when they try to discuss their pain.

The current study is one of the first to compare rates of child abuse among women who had experienced an involuntary pregnancy loss as opposed to those who experienced a voluntary loss. However, the authors noted that the findings were limited by the size of the study and called for more research to be done using larger groups of women. [emphasis this author's]
Some background: "[This] journal covers both clinical and experimental research in all areas of pediatrics including: Neonatal medicine, Developmental medicine, Adolescent medicine, Child health and environment, Psychosomatic pediatrics, Child health in developing countries."

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