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Monday, May 10, 2010

Women Who Had Abortions Report More Drug Abuse and Depression

Every day, countless children are born into a world of addiction and ultimate despair. The odds of a child's success when born into an unhealthy environment of drugs and alcohol are low; knowing this, there are some women who decide to abort their pregnancy. Obviously, not all decisions to abort are made because of addiction, but, there is a clearly a large number. Researchers in Canada have been looking at the relationship between addiction and pregnancy. According to a study done at the University of Manitoba in Canada, about one in four U.S. women who have had an abortion reported having alcohol or other drug problems as opposed to the 7 percent of women who had not had abortions. In addition, women who have had abortions were found to have higher rates of depression, mood, and anxiety disorders although the relation is weaker and less consistent.

The study makes clear to point out, that even though there are correlations between abortion and behavioral-health problems, that doesn't mean that abortion leads to addiction or depression - nor the opposite. The study did not look at whether abortions were medically necessary or elective, or whether the women's addiction and mental-health problems were present before or after their abortions. The study authors recommended that doctors screen women with addiction or mental-health problems to determine if they had a history of abortion. "You absolutely cannot say from this data that an abortion causes mental illness. There's an association present, but whether the mental illness comes before or after needs to be further examined", said Natalie Mota, a U of M graduate student who was the study's primary author.

Mota believes a reason for a strong connection between substance abuse and abortion was that women might self-medicate with drugs and alcohol following an abortion, but the study did not follow up on this idea. Depression and substance abuse affect nearly half of American women who reported having had an abortion, according to the study; doctors should screen patients for a history of abortion in women who present symptoms of anxiety, mood disorders and substance abuse to provide adequate care.

The research was published in the April 2010 issue of the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

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