Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Neural-tube defects: importance of a history of abortion in aetiology.

Br Med J 1979; 1 doi: (Published 14 April 1979) Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;1:975
  1. D R Evans


    The overall incidence of anencephaly and spina bifida (ASB) in 69,056 pregnancies was 4.7/1000 births. ASB was more common (8.4/1000 births) among children of mothers who had had two or more abortions, but the increased risk was confined to spina bifida. A history of abortion was more common in older women and women of higher parity, but this was not matched by a similar increase in the incidence of ASB. The incidence of ASB was related to social class, but the prevalence of previous abortions was similar in all classes. The results suggest that expectant mothers with a history of two or more abortions have an increased risk of producing a child with spina bifida. The abortions are considered to be a manifestation of previous abnormal conceptions rather than the primary cause.