Novel research in abortion and mental health
Abortion
Awarded 2013
Junior Investigator Grants
Julia Steinberg, PhD
University of California, San Francisco
$129,980

Objectives: To expand my research program in abortion and mental health through working with Danish population registries data. The mental health outcomes we are examining include antidepressant use, suicide attempts, and suicide. Methods: Using Danish population registries, we conducted survival analysis to examine risk of antidepressant use, suicide attempts, and suicide around a first abortion and compared this to around a first childbirth. Results: Overall, women having abortions have higher first-time antidepressant use in the year before and after an abortion compared to the year before and after a childbirth. However, there is no increase in first-time antidepressant use from pre to post-abortion, while there is an increase from pre to post-childbirth. Furthermore, as time from abortion increased, the risk of first-time antidepressant use decreased, while as time from childbirth increased, the risk of first-time antidepressant use increased. Conclusions: These results show that abortion does not increase women’s short- and long-term risk of moderate depressive episodes. Nevertheless, in general we observed that women having abortions more frequently used antidepressants for the first time in the year before and afterward compared to women giving birth. This is likely due to self-selection and other factors associated with having an abortion.

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