Just one abortion could lead to women giving birth prematurely later in life
Hidden risks: Women who end their first pregnancy with abortion are 37 per cent more likely to give birth prematurely in the future (posed by model)
Having just one abortion could raise the risk of potentially life-threatening problems in future pregnancies, young women were warned last night.
Those who terminate their first pregnancy could be risking not only their own health but that of their next baby, a study has found.
They are at higher risk of a range of problems, from their next child being born prematurely to pre-eclampsia, a complication of pregnancy that can be fatal to mother and baby.
Crucially, just one abortion appeared to be enough to do the damage, with subsequent terminations not being any more dangerous.
This differs from previous studies that found the risks rise with each abortion.
Most of the risks were linked to surgical abortions and not those that use pills, which are becoming increasingly common.
Almost 200,000 abortions are carried out in England and Wales each year, with the highest rates among women in their late teens and early 20s. In Scotland, 40 per cent of around 13,000 abortions are carried out in the under-25s.
Abortion has been linked to premature births before but some previous studies have been small and the results have been mixed.
To build a clearer picture, researchers at Aberdeen University analysed the medical records of more than 600,000 Scottish women, including many who had aborted their first baby.
The data, spanning three decades, showed a woman who had an abortion the first time she conceived was 37 per cent more likely to give birth prematurely the next time she became pregnant, compared with one who was having her first child.
Dangerous: Premature birth before 37 weeks is linked to several health conditions including lung disease, cerebral palsy, jaundice and mental health problems in later life
She was also 67 per cent more likely to give birth early than a woman who had already started her family.
However, the risks were still lower than those faced by a woman who had suffered a miscarriage, the British Science Festival in Aberdeen heard.
A woman who aborted her first pregnancy was also at higher risk of having a baby of low weight and of developing pre-eclampsia than one who was pregnant for the first time or already had a child.
Pre-eclampsia causes high blood pressure, blood clots and kidney damage, and leads to the deaths of up to 1,000 babies and at least six mothers a year.
Medical abortions using pills are normally used early in pregnancy and account for almost half of terminations in England and Wales, and 70 per cent in Scotland.
Researcher Professor Siladitya Bhattacharya said surgical abortions may be more likely to damage the womb, leading to later problems.
He added women seeking abortions should be made aware of the potential risks and medical terminations should be available to all who would benefit from them.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which carries out almost a third of abortions in the UK, says the leaflets it gives to patients mention the link with premature birth.
But they do not say abortion is the cause because some of the reasons women choose to terminate a pregnancy – such as unemployment, smoking or poor diet – are also linked to early births.
However, Philippa Taylor of the Christian Medical Fellowship said: 'This study confirms many previous findings... that all show a clear link between abortion and an increased risk of a later pre-term birth.'
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2198144/Just-abortion-lead-women-giving-birth-prematurely-later-life.html#ixzz25YZRPZKm