Abortion and depression: a population-based longitudinal study of young women

Scand J Public Health. 2008 Jun;36(4):424-8. doi: 10.1177/1403494807088449.


Aim: Induced abortion is an experience shared by a large number of women in Norway, but we know little about the likely social or mental health-related implications of undergoing induced abortion. International studies suggest an increased risk of adverse outcomes such as depression, but many studies are weakened by poor design. One particular problem is the lack of control for confounding factors likely to increase the risk of both abortion and depression. The aim of the study was to investigate whether induced abortion was a risk factor for subsequent depression.

Methods: A representative sample of women from the normal population (n=768) was monitored between the ages of 15 and 27 years. Questions covered depression, induced abortion and childbirth, as well as sociodemographic variables, family relationships and a number of individual characteristics, such as schooling and occupational history and conduct problems.

Results: Young women who reported having had an abortion in their twenties were more likely to score above the cut-off point for depression (odds ratio (OR) 3.5; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.0-6.1). Controlling for third variables reduced the association, but it remained significant (OR 2.9; 95% CI 1.7-5.6). There was no association between teenage abortion and subsequent depression.

Conclusions: Young adult women who undergo induced abortion may be at increased risk for subsequent depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / adverse effects*
  • Abortion, Induced / psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Gravidity
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires