Long-term physical health consequences of abortion in Taiwan, 2000 to 2013: A nationwide retrospective cohort study

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to quantitatively estimate the long-term risk of abortion-related consequences and comorbidities.

We identified 36,375 patients with at least 2 diagnosed abortions from 2000 to 2013 and included them in the abortion group. This group was further subdivided into 4 subgroups: spontaneous abortion, induced abortion, nonspecific abortion, and mixed-type abortion groups. For comparison, another 36,375 pregnant women from the National Health Insurance Research Database of Taiwan were included in the nonabortion group. For the puerperal cohort, the index year was defined as the year with the occurrence of at least 1 pregnancy. The puerperal cohort was then matched to the abortion cohort by age; comorbidities of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia; and index year at a 1:1 ratio. The data of these cohorts were used to examine the risk of abortion-related consequences and comorbidities in pregnant women after a mean follow-up period of 7.60 person-years.

The spontaneous abortion group exhibited significantly elevated adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) of 1.493 for pelvic inflammatory disease (P < .001), 1.680 for urinary tract infection (P < .001), 3.771 for ectopic pregnancy (P < .001), and 1.938 for infertility with no subsequent conception (P < .001). However, this group exhibited statistically insignificant HRs of 1.709 for placenta previa (P = .260), 2.982 for placenta abruption (P = .344), 1.499 for incompetent cervix (P = .658), and 0.854 for early onset of labor (P = .624). The induced abortion group showed a statistically significant elevated adjusted HR of 1.291 for urinary tract infection (P = .008) but statistically insignificant HRs of 1.031 for pelvic inflammatory disease, 1.637 for ectopic pregnancy, 5.114 for placenta previa, 65.434 for placenta abruption, 0.998 for incompetent cervix, 0.285 for early onset of labor, and 1.019 for subsequent infertility with no subsequent conception.

Clinicians encountering patients in a predicament such as spontaneous or induced abortion should unprejudicely and objectively inform the patients of the effects or influence of abortion on their physical health, including statistically significant and insignificant risks. Induced abortion may not be an independent risk factor for subsequent infertility.

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