The British Journal of Psychiatry
Abortion and mental health disorders: evidence from a 30-year longitudinal study
David M. Fergusson, L. John Horwood, Joseph M. Boden



Research on the links between abortion and mental health has been limited by design problems and relatively weak evidence.


To examine the links between pregnancy outcomes and mental health outcomes.


Data were gathered on the pregnancy and mental health history of a birth cohort of over 500 women studied to the age of 30.


After adjustment for confounding, abortion was associated with a small increase in the risk of mental disorders; women who had had abortions had rates of mental disorder that were about 30% higher. There were no consistent associations between other pregnancy outcomes and mental health. Estimates of attributable risk indicated that exposure to abortion accounted for 1.5% to 5.5% of the overall rate of mental disorders.


The evidence is consistent with the view that abortion may be associated with a small increase in risk of mental disorders. Other pregnancy outcomes were not related to increased risk of mental health problems.

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