One Factor in the Epidemic of Premature Births: Abortion

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), March 14, 2011 | Go to article overview

One Factor in the Epidemic of Premature Births: Abortion


Byline: Adriana Lee

Since 1981, the rate of premature births in America has increased exponentially. Premature birth (birth before 37 weeks of gestation) is one of the leading causes of infant deaths.

Here in Lane County, this issue hits close to home because our infant mortality rate (death before one year of age) of 7 deaths per 1,000 live births is higher than that of both the nation and the state (5.5 deaths per 1,000 live births). To address this epidemic, it is important to understand the causes of premature birth.

In many cases, the cause of premature birth is unknown. Among the causes that are known, one that is beginning to be understood is abortion.

For the last three decades, medical researchers have studied the impact of past abortions on later birth complications. There are, at present, more than 59 well-conducted studies from around the world. This research has resulted in the publication of three important review papers that summarize the results of all the studies to date.

These results are startling: The odds of having a future premature birth are increased by between 25 percent and 36 percent with one previous abortion, and between 51 percent and 93 percent with more than one previous abortion.

The odds of extreme premature births (birth before 32 weeks) are even more staggering, and increase with each additional abortion: 250 percent for those with one abortion, 520 percent with two abortions, and 800 percent for those who had three or more previous abortions.

These results, together with another study published just last year, bring to light a link that the public has been unaware of so far. Abortion can lead to a higher risk of future premature birth because a woman is more likely to develop cervical incompetence from the abortion.

Cervical incompetence occurs when the cervix (the neck at the bottom of the uterus or womb), which normally is closed and tight until labor starts, opens wide before it is time for labor, causing possible premature birth or miscarriage.

In the study published last year, a direct relationship was found between abortion and cervical incompetence.

Women with one previous abortion are 2.5 times more likely to have cervical incompetence. …

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