Study Shows Abortion Increases Risk of Premature Birth

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 15, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 15, 2005

Paris, France ( — A new study in France shows that an induced abortion can increase the risk by premature birth in subsequent pregnancies by as much as 70 percent. That’s because the abortions can damage the lining of the uterus, where unborn children grow and developed.

The study was based on medical notes and interviews of 2837 French women who had a premature birth during 1997, which represents about one-third of the total number of premature births that year.

Those who gave birth between 28 and 32 weeks of pregnancy were 40 percent more likely to have had an abortion compared with mothers who gave birth within two weeks of the expected due date.

Mothers who gave birth to babies from 22 to 27 weeks into the pregnancy were 70 percent more likely to have had an abortion.

Caroline Moreau, of France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research, told The Age newspaper that low level infections introduced due to the abortion may come back in a subsequent pregnancy.

She also indicated the cervix may not seal off the uterus completely following an abortion. That would allow bacteria to enter the uterus, causing infections.

During a pregnancy, the cervix is normally rigid and closed, but, in order to perform an abortion, the cervix must be stretched open considerably. While the cervix is forcibly dilated, the cervix muscles can be torn and occasionally ripped off the uterine wall.

In fact, the Elliot Institute, a post-abortion research organization, points to one hospital study showing 12.5% of first trimester abortions required stitching for cervical lacerations while another study of women in Hawaii found that cervical lacerations occurred on 22 percent of the women who had abortions.

Moreau also said surgical instruments during an abortion could damage the lining of the uterus, making it less effective and affecting the development of the baby in a later pregnancy.

Dr. Judith Lumley, the director of Mother and Child Health Research at La Trobe University, said Dr. Moreau’s study was an extension of one she did in 1999. Lumley said Moreau’s conclusions about the link between abortion and premature birth were the same as her own.

Dr. Lumley’s study examined women in Melbourne, Australia and she found that the risk of premature birth was higher both with an abortion and a miscarriage.

A previous article in the summer issue of Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, authors Brent Rooney and Dr. Byron Calhoun present an overwhelming case that prior induced abortions boost a woman’s risk of a preterm delivery.

They point to 49 studies which have demonstrated a statistically significant increase in premature births or low birth weight risk in women with prior induced abortions.

"Large studies have reported a doubling of early premature birth risk from two prior induced abortions. Women who had four or more induced abortions experienced, on average, nine times the risk of low birth weight, an increase of 800 percent," they write.

"These results suggest that women contemplating induced abortion should be informed of this potential risk to subsequent pregnancies, and that physicians should be aware of the potential liability and possible need for intensified prenatal care," they concluded.

The new study was published last month in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.