Monday, 1 July 2013

Women must be informed of the overwhelming evidence linking abortion and later preterm birth

The link between abortion and premature birth is already well established but largely underplayed or denied by British authorities including the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

Most doctors and women are therefore not aware of it.

I have previously summarised the medical evidence on this blog and have recently highlighted major Finnish, Danish and Scottish studies confirming the link.

Now a new paper from North Carolina has reviewed all the available data on the association between abortion and subsequent increased risk for preterm and very preterm birth. 

The author, Martin McCaffrey, is a clinical professor of paediatrics at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine, director of the Perinatal Quality Collaborative of North Carolina, and member of the NC General Assembly Child Fatality Task Force.

He highlights findings from two recent Systematic Review and Meta-analysis articles.

The two standout conclusions are as follows:

1. The risk of prematurity increases, in a ‘dose effect’ with one or more induced abortions (ie. The more abortions, the higher the risk of prematurity)

2. Abortion is linked with increased risk of ‘preterm’ birth (33-36 weeks), but it is linked with an even higher risk of ‘very preterm birth’ (VPTB) (< 32 weeks) where babies are at much higher risk of morbidities like cerebral palsy.

There are currently 137 scientific articles reporting on the link between abortion and preterm birth in the subsequent pregnancy.

Two well-designed meta-analyses now demonstrate that just one prior abortion increases by 36% the risk for a future ‘preterm’ birth and by 64% for a ‘very preterm’ birth.

Two or more abortions increase the risk for a future ‘preterm’ birth by 93%.

It is long overdue, based on the scientifically proven risk abortion poses for future preterm birth, that we educate sexually active women and men of the serious risk abortion poses for the health of babies born subsequent to abortion.

The article contains two very helpful graphic demonstrations highlighting the inordinate shift of higher risk of VPTB for infants born subsequent to the mother having had an abortion. 

It is a travesty that this information is not disseminated by medical and other organisations dealing with reducing the incidence of preterm birth.

I am grateful to AAPLOG for drawing this report to my attention.

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