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Having an abortion increases the risk of having a premature birth in a subsequent pregnancy — that is the conclusion of a European researcher at a medical conference.

Several previous studies have shown that abortion hurts women and future children by upping the chance of premature delivery.

Lead researcher Dr Robbert van Oppenraaij presented his findings before the collegium of scientists today at the annual European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Amsterdam.

He says one induced abortion raisers the risk of premature birth in a next pregnancy by 20 percent.

Two or more abortions raises the risk by 90 percent and doubles the risk of a very premature birth, at 34 weeks or less.

"It can be concluded that a history of abortion is associated with an increased risk for premature delivery and very premature delivery," he said, according to a London Mirror newspaper report.

Those numbers present a grave problem given that the repeat abortion rate in some nations, such as the United States and England — is 40 to 50 percent or more. That means millions of women and children around the globe are at risk of premature birth because of having an abortion.

In February, another study confirmed the link between abortion and subsequent premature births when a woman is pregnant again.

Dr. Manfred Voigt led the study, published in the German medical magazine Z Geburtshilfe Neonatol.

According to the research, women who have one prior abortion boost their risk for a very premature birth in a future pregnancy by 30 percent.

Women who have had more than one prior abortion increase their risk of a very premature birth by 90 percent.

Canadian researcher Brent Rooney, who has published his own work on the abortion-premature birth link, says the common criticism from abortion advocates about studies showing post-abortion problems is a concern regarding recall bias. But the Voigt team had access to accurate abortion data from a governmental database without having to interview women about whether they had abortions.

"Deniers of the abortion-preemie risk would like to claim the women with a bad pregnancy outcome may not provide accurate information about their induced abortion history," Rooney said. "Data about women's prior induced abortion history in the 'Voigt' study was extracted from a perinatal data-base."

With the new German study, Rooney says there are now 17 statistically significant studies all confirming the abortion-very premature birth link.

Another 105 significant studies report a link between abortion and slightly premature birth or low birth weight babies.

In 2006, the National Academies of Science found that a first-trimester abortion, the most common abortion procedure, is linked to an increasing risk of premature birth.

The IOM published a report this month titled "Preterm Birth: Causes, Consequences, and Prevention."

In the report is a list of "immutable medical risk factors associated with preterm birth" and "prior first-trimester abortion" is listed third among other risk factors that increase the risk of having a subsequent premature birth.

The report has huge consequences for abortion because premature birth can lead to a host of problems, including cerebral palsy for the child and breast cancer for the mother.

The IOM reported that premature births before 37 weeks gestation represent 12.5 percent of all U.S. births, a 30% increase since 1981. Abortion became legally accessible in 1973 and the number of abortions peaked in the early 1980s as it became more ingrained in society.

The IOM said premature birth cost U.S. society $26.2 billion in 2005.

[29 June 2009, Ertelt, Washington, DC, ]