A history of induced abortion in relation to substance use during subsequent pregnancies carried to term

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2002 Dec;187(6):1673-8. doi: 10.1067/mob.2002.127602.


Objective: Previous research has revealed a general association between induced abortion and substance use. The purpose of this study was to examine the correlation when substance use is measured specifically during a subsequent pregnancy.

Study design: A nationally representative sample of women was surveyed about substance use during pregnancy shortly after giving birth. Women with a previous induced abortion, whose second pregnancy was delivered, were compared separately with women with one previous birth and with women with no previous births.

Results: Compared with women who gave birth, women who had had an induced abortion were significantly more likely to use marijuana (odds ratio, 10.29; 95% CI, 3.47-30.56), various illicit drugs (odds ratio, 5.60; 95% CI, 2.39-13.10), and alcohol (odds ratio, 2.22; 95% CI, 1.31-3.76) during their next pregnancy. The results with only first-time mothers were very similar.

Conclusion: Psychosocial mechanisms that may explain the findings are discussed. Screening for abortion history may help to identify pregnant women who are at risk for substance use more effectively.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Educational Status
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs*
  • Income
  • Marijuana Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Marital Status
  • Maternal Age
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking / epidemiology


  • Illicit Drugs