Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Young women who have lost a pregnancy through abortion or miscarriage have an increased risk for substance abuse or developing a mood disorder in later life, according to an Australian study.
The Mater-University of Queensland study of pregnancy and its outcomes, involving 1223 women, found young women who had had a miscarriage before the age of 21 years were more than twice as likely to abuse illicit drugs (excluding cannabis) compared to those who had never been pregnant.
The study, which appears in the British Journal of Psychiatry, also showed that having an abortion before 21 years of age doubled the risk of alcohol abuse or of developing depression; and more than tripled the risk of illicit drug use.
Lead author, Kaeleen Dingle, from the University of Queensland says it is important that counsellors seeing young women after an abortion or miscarriage recognise they could be at risk for mental health disorders.
The findings follows two previous studies from New Zealand and Norway, that found abortion increased the risk of substance use disorders and psychiatric disorders in young women.
The evidence for mental health risks is a good argument for preventing abortion.
After an abortion, some young women struggle with the loss or the reasons behind the decision to abort their child and need extra support.
Help is available at Right to Life
Right to Life provides outreach to women in crisis through Pregnancy Counselling Australia. This hotline runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is confidential. The female counsellors discuss the callers situation, give information on pregnancy and abortion, offer post-abortion support and refer for practical support including welfare agencies, baby goods and doctors. They also offer face-to-face appointments. Women can call 1300 737 732 to talk to counsellors. If you are interested in becoming trained in pregnancy counselling and working as a volunteer on the crisis line leave a message on (03) 9388 1866.