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JAMA. 1991 Jun 5;265(21):2821-5.

Spontaneous and induced abortion among resident physicians.

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Division of Prevention Research, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. 20892.


Female resident physicians are believed to be at an increased risk for a variety of third-trimester pregnancy complications. However, early pregnancy complications have been less well studied. This report compares spontaneous and induced abortions in a nationally representative sample of 5096 female medical school graduates (who experienced 1284 pregnancies) and of the sexual partners of 5000 of their male classmates (who experienced 1481 pregnancies). The response to the survey was 86.1%. The life-table probability of spontaneous abortion was 14.8% for female residents compared with 12.6% for the sexual partners of male residents. However, female residents were more likely than the male residents' sexual partners to terminate a pregnancy voluntarily (8.2% vs 2.7%). The increased risk of voluntary termination persisted when only married women were studied (3.6% vs 1.4%). However, female residents' pregnancies were at approximately half the risk of voluntary termination compared with pregnancies among the general US population of women aged 25 to 34 years. These results provide reassurance to those residents who would like to become pregnant but are concerned about the possible effect of their occupation on the course of the pregnancy.

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