But godliness with contentment is great gain. - 1 Timothy 6:6

Study Finds Abortion Increases Risk of Ectopic Pregnancy by 50%

Study Finds Abortion Increases Risk of Ectopic Pregnancy by 50%

An article published in the March issue of the American Journal of Public Health reports that a large study has found a 50% increased risk of ectopic (or tubal) pregnancy among women who have undergone abortion, with an even greater risk among women who have had more than one previous abortion. A team of French doctors and researchers reported the results of a study involving 1,955 women conducted in two regions of France between 1988 and 1991.

An ectopic, or tubal, pregnancy results when the embryo implants in the fallopian tube or elsewhere rather than the uterine wall.* Undetected, the tube may rupture as the child grows resulting in the death of the baby and seriously threatening the life of the mother. Currently, approximately 1.5% of pregnancies are ectopic pregnancies. The authors indicate that "despite progress in diagnosis and treatment, ectopic pregnancy is still the leading cause of maternal death during the first trimester of pregnancy."

According to the report, the authors found that women who had previously had at least one surgical abortion were 50% more likely to develop an ectopic pregnancy than women who had not had a previous induced abortion. Among women who had two or more previous induced abortions and no previous ectopic pregnancy, the risk was nearly twice as high (90% increased risk). In the last twenty years, the researchers say the number of ectopic pregnancies has increased three to four times. Identified risk factors for ectopic pregnancy are smoking at the time of conception, pelvic surgery, use of an IUD, pelvic inflammatory disease, and induced ovulation. But these risks account for just 65% of all ectopic pregnancies. This study was conducted to determine if other factors, like previous abortions, might explain some of the remaining one-third of ectopic pregnancies among women without any of these known risk factors. 22.5% of the patients in the study with an ectopic pregnancy have had abortions, while only 16.2% of the controls (those women with a normal pregnancy) reported having an abortion. Even with other risk factors factored out, the discrepancy remained. Women who had previously aborted had a 50% higher risk. The authors speculate that the higher risk could be "the consequence of uterine injuries consecutive to this procedure, either inflammatory lesions or asymptomatic ascending infections," in other words, due to "injuries, inflammations, and infections resulting from the scraping and suctioning of a woman's uterus in a surgical abortion. These inflammations or lesions may damage the fallopian tube, inhibiting the transport of the embryo. Instead of implanting in the uterine wall, the embryo implants in the fallopian tube."

With approximately six million pregnancies in the United States each year, 1.5% (a 50% higher risk of ectopic pregnancy) represents some 90,000 ectopic pregnancies, or more, each year. If one assumes that women having abortions have the same rate of pregnancy as those who do not, and that approximately one-third of all women have had abortions, using statistics from the French study one would estimate as many as 12,000 or more ectopic pregnancies every year in America being attributable to abortion. Despite the prevalence of abortion in the United States, there have been few studies on American populations. Some have shown a similar risk, but most, the authors say, "have not revealed any significant association." The French researchers dismiss such studies, saying they "generally have not included enough subjects to allow satisfactory statistical power." Because of the size and design of the French study, there is little doubt that an association exists between abortion and ectopic pregnancy.

* There are other forms of ectopic pregnancy, such as abdominal or cervical pregnancies, but these are much rarer (though not necessarily less dangerous).

[4/14/98 - National Right to Life News]

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