WorldMag 22 June 2015
Studies leading up to a 2009 meta-analysis indicate the medical community has been aware for years of a link between abortions (induced and spontaneous) and subsequent preterm births. New research from Europe pinpoints surgical dilation and curettage (D&C) procedures as the culprit.
A D&C is one of the most common methods of first trimester surgical abortion. A doctor may also perform a D&C after a miscarriage (also known as a spontaneous abortion) to remove the lifeless baby’s body.
Last week in Lisbon, at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, Dr. Pim Ankum of the Academic Medical Centre of the University of Amsterdam presented his analysis of 21 cohort studies involving nearly 2 million women. He found women who had undergone a D&C after an abortion or miscarriage faced in a subsequent pregnancy a 29 percent higher chance of a preterm birth (defined as between 32 and 37 weeks) and a 69 percent greater chance of a very preterm birth (before 32 weeks).
During natural labor, the cervix dilates and thins over the course of several hours. But in some D&C procedures, an abortionist expands the cervix with metal rods. The abortionist then uses a spoon-shaped instrument called a curette to kill and scrape out the preborn baby. Ankum suggested the traumatic dilation during a D&C may injure a woman’s cervix, made mostly of muscle, increasing the possibility it will open prematurely in a future pregnancy. The invasive procedure may also introduce certain genital tract infections known to cause premature birth.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 1 out of every 9 babies born in the United States is preterm. Many of them experience breathing or feeding difficulties, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, and hearing or visual impairments. In 2010, more than one-third of all infant deaths in the United States could be traced to preterm-related causes.