Adolescent conduct problems and later risk of induced abortion:
Adolescent conduct problems and later risk of induced abortion: A population-based longitudinal study
By Willy Pedersen, University of Oslo and Norwegian Social Research, Arne Mastekaasa, University of Oslo
Objective: To examine the relationship between level of conduct problems (CP) at age 15
and the risk of abortion during the teenage years and throughout the women’s twenties
Design: Longitudinal study
Setting: The “Young in Norway longitudinal Study” was used.
Population: Nationally representative sample (N 769) of Norwegian girls aged 12-15 years
in 1992, followed up till 2005
Methods: Conduct problems (CP) approaching DSM-III-R criteria for conduct disorder,
sociodemographic factors, family factors and a number of individual factors (e.g. use of
alcohol and depression) was measured at age 15. Logistic regression analysis was used to
model whether the probability of having an abortion in the age span 15-19 and the age span
20-27 years depends on CP at age 15, with a number of control variables.
Main outcome measure: Induced abortion
Results: CP at age 15 was associated with a later risk for abortions. The most CP-disturbed
5% of the sample had an OR of 5.8 (95 % ci 1.9-18.3) of teenage abortions, after controlling
for socio-demographic and family variables. Risk behaviours related to alcohol, school
problems, and deviant peers mediated part of the CP-associated risk. However, after
controlling for such variables, CP still was a risk factor (OR 3.9; 1.0-16.0). In the age period
20-27 years CP measured at age 15 continued to be a risk factor, with an OR of 5.1 (1.7-
15.0) for the most CP disturbed group after control for confounders and mediating risk
factors. Impulsivity mediates a minor part of the association between early CP and abortion.
Conclusions: Girls with conduct problems in early adolescence are at risk for induced
abortion throughout the teenage years and until their mid twenties. More targeted and
intensive abortion preventive programmes aimed at girls with CP may be warranted.