Background: Research on the links between abortion and mental health has been limited by design problems and relatively weak evidence.
Aims: To examine the links between pregnancy outcomes and mental health outcomes.
Method: Data were gathered on the pregnancy and mental health history of a birth cohort of over 500 women studied to the age of 30.
Results: After adjustment for confounding, abortion was associated with a small increase in the risk of mental disorders; women who had had abortions had rates of mental disorder that were about 30% higher. There were no consistent associations between other pregnancy outcomes and mental health. Estimates of attributable risk indicated that exposure to abortion accounted for 1.5% to 5.5% of the overall rate of mental disorders.
Conclusions: The evidence is consistent with the view that abortion may be associated with a small increase in risk of mental disorders. Other pregnancy outcomes were not related to increased risk of mental health problems.