Women who find themselves affected by an unwanted pregnancy have the choice to abort the fetus and end the pregnancy. Most abortions are completed before the 12th week of gestation and many women recover completely. However, making the same choice multiples times could cause harmful side effects when they finally decide to carry a pregnancy to term. According to the journal Human Reproduction, women who have more than three abortions before they give birth to their first child increase the risk of some pregnancy complications up to 225%.

Study Details
The study included more than 300,000 women in Europe. Of the women, about 10% had one abortion. Slightly less than 2% of women had two abortions and about 0.3% of women had three or more abortions between 1996 and 2008. All abortions noted for the study were induced and performed before the woman gave birth to their first child. The study revealed a statistically significant increased risk of pregnancy complications with three or more abortions, including premature birth, low birth weight, and very low birth weight; risk of very low birth weight increased by 225% among women with a history of three or more abortions. Researchers took various factors such as economic standing, age, and social background into consideration and altered results to reflect these factors.

While the study clearly portrays increased risk of pregnancy complications, researchers noted the results can be deceiving. Just because there was a link in this population does not mean abortion is the cause. However, it was also noted that Finland performs a small number of abortions yearly and aftercare is stellar – unlike care provided to women in underdeveloped countries. If even the smallest increase in pregnancy complications is noted in the Finnish population, researchers believe the outcomes in populations with subpar aftercare could be even more pronounced.

Study authors suggest including the possible increased risk of complications as part of general sex education and information offered to women seeking an abortion, especially when the woman has never given birth or when she’s had an abortion before.

Source: R. Klemetti, M. Gissler, M. Niinimaki and E. Hemminki. Human Reproduction. August 31, 2012.