ANHUI, China, March 19, 2012 ( – A new study of post-abortive women in China found a high correlation between induced abortion and depression among pregnant women, adding to the growing body of evidence that links abortion with negative mental health outcomes.

The findings were reached by a team of Chinese researchers from Anhui Medical College who analyzed data that had been previously collected as part of an on-going study on child development.

Their study, titled, “The Impact of Prior Abortion on Anxiety and Depression Symptoms During a Subsequent Pregnancy: Data From a Population-Based Cohort Study in China,” was published recently in the Bulletin of Clinical Psychopharmacology.

The researchers used data from 6,887 pregnant women who had participated in the Annui Birth Defects and Child Development Cohort study between October 2008 and September 2009. 3,264 of those women had experienced a previous abortion. Most were induced abortions, although the data also included some women who had had spontaneous abortions (miscarriages).

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They found that pregnant women who had undergone an induced abortion of a previous pregnancy a year or more before their current pregnancy were 49% more likely to experience depression and 114% more likely to experience anxiety during their first trimester. If the abortion was more recent, the risk was 97% greater for anxiety in the first trimester, and 64% greater for depression during the second trimester.

In comparison, the study found, women who had experienced a miscarriage did not appear to be at a greater risk for anxiety or depression than other pregnant women in the first and second trimester.

“Prior abortion poses serious mental health risks for women, which further increase the risk of obstretric complications, pregnancy symptoms, and adverse pregnant outcomes,” the study said. “Therefore, exploring the type and magnitude of the impact of previous abortions on pregnant women’s mental health has significant implications for determining high-risk groups and preventing psychological disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes.”

The researchers also cited a previous study which found that anxiety was particularly prevalent among post-abortive pregnant woman before the woman passed the gestational point at which the previous abortion had occurred.

Dr. Priscilla Coleman, a professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, called this finding “disconcerting,” noting that “all the major body structures are formed during the 1st trimester and stress hormones may potentially harm the developing fetus.”

In an analysis of the study, Coleman also noted that the findings were consistent with those of previous studies.

“Even in a culture wherein abortion is widespread and is mandated by the government after women give birth once, the magnitude of psychological risks are comparable to those identified in other parts of the world,” she pointed out.