Nov. 17 was World Prematurity Day. New global estimates indicate that, as Eve Lackritz of the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth explains, “important gains have been made for nearly all causes of child death, except one in which progress has remained nearly stagnant: newborn mortality.”
Preterm birth is not only the leading cause of newborn mortality. It is now the leading cause of all under-five deaths. About 3,000 children die each day from complications of prematurity, and those who survive are much more likely to have cerebral palsy or other health problems.
But the international community and media coverage have failed to acknowledge a significant risk factor for premature delivery. A wealth of worldwide research has established that induced abortion substantially increases the risk of preterm birth in subsequent pregnancies.
For example, a 2009 systematic review published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that a history of one induced abortion increased the risk of preterm birth by 36 percent and increased the risk of low birth weight by 35 percent. The increased risks greatly escalated with additional abortions—to 93 percent and 72 percent, respectively.
Another 2009 systematic review, in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, concluded that abortion raised the risk of birth before 32 weeks’ gestation by 64 percent. A 2013 study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada showed “a significant increase in the risk of preterm delivery in women with a history of previous induced abortion.”
The prevalence of abortion undeniably contributes to the problem of newborn mortality (as well as to cerebral palsy and other disabilities). Abortion doesn’t just take the lives of human beings in utero—it leads to the deaths of already-born babies too.
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