JAPAN – Abortion associated with lower psychological distress than both adoption and unwanted birth
by Natsu Sasaki, Mari Ikeda, Daisuke Nishi
Archive of Women’s Mental Health 28 October 2022;25:1119–1127. Long-term influence of unintended pregnancy on psychological distress: a large sample retrospective cross-sectional study.
This study examined the associations between childbirth decisions in women with unintended pregnancies and long-term psychological distress. An online survey of women selected from a representative research panel was conducted in July 2021. Among participants who experienced an unintended pregnancy, the childbirth decision was categorized: (i) wanted birth, (ii) abortion, (iii) adoption, and (iv) unwanted birth. Participants who made childbirth decisions more than one year ago were included. ANCOVA was conducted with psychological distress (Kessler 6) as the dependent variable and education, marital status, years from the decision, age of the first pregnancy, economic situation at the unintended pregnancy, and the number of persons consulted at the unintended pregnancy as covariates. Logistic regression analysis was conducted for high distress (K6 ≥ 13) by adjusting the same covariates. A total of 47,401 respondents participated in the study. Women with an experience of unintended pregnancy experienced more than one year before the study were analyzed (n = 7,162). Psychological distress was the lowest for wanted birth and increased for abortion, adoption, and unwanted birth. In the adjusted model, abortion was associated with lower distress scores than both adoption and unwanted birth. Compared to the wanted birth, adoption and unwanted birth showed significantly higher levels of distress (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 2.03 [95% CI 1.36–3.04], aOR = 1.64 [95% CI 1.04–2.58], respectively). Long-term effects on psychological distress differed according to the childbirth decisions in unintended pregnancy. Healthcare professionals should be aware of this hidden effect of unintended pregnancy experience on women’s mental health.
In sum, the study found that abortion was associated with lower psychological distress than both adoption and unwanted birth.
PHOTO by Noriko Hayashi/ © 2018 Bloomberg Finance LP