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N Engl J Med. 2011 Jan 27;364(4):332-9. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa0905882.

Induced first-trimester abortion and risk of mental disorder.

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National Center for Register-Based Research, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.



Concern has been expressed about potential harm to women's mental health in association with having an induced abortion, but it remains unclear whether induced abortion is associated with an increased risk of subsequent psychiatric problems.


We conducted a population-based cohort study that involved linking information from the Danish Civil Registration system to the Danish Psychiatric Central Register and the Danish National Register of Patients. The information consisted of data for girls and women with no record of mental disorders during the 1995-2007 period who had a first-trimester induced abortion or a first childbirth during that period. We estimated the rates of first-time psychiatric contact (an inpatient admission or outpatient visit) for any type of mental disorder within the 12 months after the abortion or childbirth as compared with the 9-month period preceding the event.


The incidence rates of first psychiatric contact per 1000 person-years among girls and women who had a first abortion were 14.6 (95% confidence interval [CI], 13.7 to 15.6) before abortion and 15.2 (95% CI, 14.4 to 16.1) after abortion. The corresponding rates among girls and women who had a first childbirth were 3.9 (95% CI, 3.7 to 4.2) before delivery and 6.7 (95% CI, 6.4 to 7.0) post partum. The relative risk of a psychiatric contact did not differ significantly after abortion as compared with before abortion (P = 0.19) but did increase after childbirth as compared with before childbirth (P < 0.001).


The finding that the incidence rate of psychiatric contact was similar before and after a first-trimester abortion does not support the hypothesis that there is an increased risk of mental disorders after a first-trimester induced abortion.

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