SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Sept. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A new study of the medical records for nearly half a million women in Denmark reveals significantly higher maternal death rates following abortion compared to delivery. This finding has confirmed similar population studies conducted in Finland and the United States, but contradicts the widely held belief that abortion is safer than childbirth.
By linking records from Denmark's fertility and abortion registries to death registry records, the researchers examined death rates following the first pregnancy outcome of all women of reproductive age in Denmark over a 30-year period, charting death rates at 180 days, 1 year, and in each of 10 subsequent years following each woman's first pregnancy outcome. Significantly, higher rates of death were observed among women who aborted in every time period examined. (Graph: http://bit.ly/NOyrBa)
Overall, the study found that women who had first-trimester abortions had an 89 percent higher risk of death within the first year and an 80 percent higher risk of death over the full study period.
Published in the Medical Science Monitor, this is the first record linkage study of maternal mortality rates associated with abortion to be published using Denmark's centralized health data. Record linkage studies of the population of Finland and of low-income women in California have also found elevated death rates associated with abortion.
Record Linkage Studies Eliminate Reporting Errors
The findings of these record linkage studies from three different countries contradict the conclusion that abortion is safer than childbirth. That view has traditionally been based on death certificates alone or on voluntary reporting to government agencies. For example, a recent study published in the February 2012 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology using the latter method concluded that the death rate associated with childbirth is 14 times higher than that associated with abortion.
According to Dr. David Reardon, an author of the new Danish record linkage study, the study published in February was an "apples versus oranges" comparison of two very incomplete and incomparable data sets.
"Doctors and other officials completing death certificates almost never know if the deceased had a history of abortion," said Reardon, who directs the Elliot Institute. "Record linkage, such as we have done, is the only way to objectively identify and compare death rates associated with pregnancy outcome using the same yardstick."
Amy Sobie, 217-525-8202, [email protected]
Reardon, et al. Short and long term mortality rates associated with first pregnancy outcome: Population register based study for Denmark, 1980-2004. Med Sci Monit 2012; 18(9):PH71-76.
Gissler M, et al. Pregnancy-associated mortality after birth, spontaneous abortion or induced abortion in Finland, 1987-2000. Am J Ob Gyn 2004; 190:422-427.
Reardon, et al. Deaths associated with pregnancy outcome: a record linkage study of low income women. South Med J 2002 Aug; 95(8):834-41.
Raymond, et al. The Comparative Safety of Legal Induced Abortion and Childbirth in the United States. Obstetrics & Gynecology 2012; 119:215-219.
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SOURCE Elliot Institute