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Med School Doctors to Study Abortion's Long-Term Effects

By Sarah C.M. Paine

Faculty Members at the Harvard Medical School and the School of Public Health are studying possible harmful effects of abortions on subsequent pregnancies, an instructor at the Medical School said Wednesday.

Dr. Stephen C. Schoenbaum, one of the six physicians involved in the study, said Wednesday the project at the Boston Hospital for Women will be funded by the National Foundation-March of Dimes with a $100,000 grant for the first year.

Dr. Kenneth J. Ryan, Ladd Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and director of the study, said yesterday he expects the funding to continue for five years.


Although previous studies examined the correlation of just a few pregnancy disorders to previous abortions, this study is the first to examine all pregnancy and infant abnormalities such as premature birth and Caesarian section delivery.

The women volunteering for the study will be divided into four groups. Dr. Phillip G. Stubblefield '62, instructor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, said yesterday.

The first group will consist of pregnant women planning to keep their babies. The second group will involve women who have just had abortions and the third and fourth categories will include women who have had spontaneous miscarriages or etopic pregnancies, Stubblefield said.

Ryan said each of these groups will be controlled for smoking, the number of previous children, order of pregnancy, type of abortion, age during pregnancy and/or abortion, and previous medical history.

Stubblefield added that previous studies did not control for all these factors.

"A tremendous amount of interest has been generated" by the study, Ryan said. The World Health Organization and groups in Hawaii, Singapore and in New York are conducting similar studies.

He said the studies now being conducted are not redundant because the methods of abortion at the hospitals involved and the medical backgrounds of the patients sampled may differ considerably.

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