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National study: Abortion does not cause depression or low self-esteem in adolescents
Date:9/24/2010

CORVALLIS, Ore. A new study has determined that teenagers who have abortions are no more likely to become depressed or have low self-esteem than their peers whose pregnancies do not end in abortion.

The study conducted by researchers from Oregon State University and University of California, San Francisco, is the first to use both depression and low self-esteem as outcomes with a nationally representative sample of adolescents.

The researchers found that young women in the study who had an abortion were no more likely to become depressed or have low self-esteem within the first year of pregnancy or five years later than their peers who were pregnant, but did not have an abortion.

The researchers used data from 289 respondents to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Data were taken from three survey waves, starting in 1994-1995, surveyed again one year later, and then five years after that. The study is available online and will appear in the December issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

Lead author Jocelyn Warren, a post-doctoral research associate at OSU, said the study was intended to fill a major gap in abortion research.

"We know most teen pregnancies are not wanted pregnancies and an unwanted pregnancy can be very stressful," Warren said.

She said previous research has shown that adolescent girls who get pregnant report more depression and lower self-esteem compared to those who don't. "What we didn't know was whether psychological outcomes are worse for girls who choose abortion. This study says, 'No.'"

Warren noted that a 2008 report by the American Psychological Association found no evidence that an induced abortion causes mental health problems in adult women. Because of a scarcity of evidence, no conclusions were drawn at that time about adolescents. Warren said the results of their study with teen girls were consistent with the
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Contact: Jocelyn Warren
jocelyn.warren@oregonstate.edu
541-737-1387
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

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