Background: Few studies have considered whether elective and/or spontaneous abortion (EAB/SAB) may be risk factors for mental health sequelae in subsequent pregnancy. This paper examines the impact of EAB/SAB on mental health during subsequent pregnancy in a sample of women involved in a larger prospective study of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) across the childbearing year (n=1,581).
Methods: Women expecting their first baby completed standardized telephone assessments including demographics, trauma history, PTSD, depression, and pregnancy wantedness, and religiosity.
Results: Fourteen percent (n=221) experienced a prior elective abortion (EAB), 13.1% (n=206) experienced a prior spontaneous abortion (SAB), and 1.4% (n=22) experienced both. Of those women who experienced either an EAB or SAB, 13.9% (n=220) appraised the EAB or SAB experience as having been "a hard time" (i.e., potentially traumatic) and 32.6% (n=132) rated it as their index trauma (i.e., their worst or second worst lifetime exposure). Among the subset of 405 women with prior EAB or SAB, the rate of PTSD during the subsequent pregnancy was 12.6% (n-51), the rate of depression was 16.8% (n=68), and 5.4% (n-22) met criteria for both disorders.
Conclusions: History of sexual trauma predicted appraising the experience of EAB or SAB as "a hard time." Wanting to be pregnant sooner was predictive of appraising the experience of EAB or SAB as the worst or second worst (index) trauma. EAB or SAB was appraised as less traumatic than sexual or medical trauma exposures and conveyed relatively lower risk for PTSD. The patterns of predictors for depression were similar.
2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.