"We followed all women having abortions in Denmark from 1995 through 2007. Each woman having a first-time, first-trimester-induced abortion was followed individually from nine months before the procedure to 12 months after," said Munk-Olsen, a postdoctoral fellow at the National Center for Register-Based Research at Aarhus University in Aarhus, Denmark.
"During this period, we studied if the women had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital or had records of treatment at an outpatient clinic," she added.
In Denmark, abortions are both free and legal during the first trimester.
"Fifteen out of 1,000 women had a first-time psychiatric episode during the first year after having a first-trimester-induced abortion," Munk-Olsen said.
The most frequent reasons for psychiatric visits were neurotic or stress-related complaints. Some past studies may have included issues such as sadness or regret, which don't necessary constitute a mental disorder, Munk-Olsen said.
Among women and girls who actually delivered a baby, about four in 1,000 had a first-time psychiatric episode before the baby and about seven afterward -- an increase possibly related to postpartum depression, the study authors said.
"The higher level of psychiatric contacts in the abortion group could reflect that the women are at a vulnerable time in their lives, but we do not know this," Munk-Olsen said.
Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said, "The findings show that motherhood and parenting are decisions with lifelong implications and that individual women are in the best positions to decide when and if the
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