Developmental effects of denied abortion

  Forsker David Chamberlain – foredrag i Oslo 1994
Utdrag fra forskningsrapporter/litteratur mottatt på foredraget
Prenatal Enrichment: New Resource and Research Findings

 Born unwanted: Developmental effects of denied abortion

by H.P. David, Z. Dytrych, Z. Matejcek, and V. Schuller.
Czechoslovak Medical Press: Prague (1988) 

This is the most extensive scientific study on the effects of being born unwanted. Experts studied cohorts in Gõteborg (for 35 years), Prague (Birth to early adulthood), Northern Finland (16 years). From this collaboration, one can see the pervasive consequences of flawed relationships before birth.

In Gõteborg, 120 children unwanted were matched with 120 controls of the same sex. Individuals unwanted at conception, unwanted during gestation, and delivered after refusal of applications for abortion were at greater risk than control subjects for psychosocial problems. The unwanted children received more psychiatric attention, were more often delinquent, and did more poorly in school.

In Prague, studies used a double-blind method, matched-pair controls, periodic psychological assessments, and public controls. By age nine, the children born to mothers twice refused for abortion ended up receiving more medical care for acute and long-term illnesses. Mother’s rated them as more stubborn, naughty, and bad-tempered. Teachers rated them lower in academic achievement. Schoolmates rejected them more often as friends. Born to ambivalent mothers, these children were more deviant, received less empathy and attention to their communication, had less warm interchanges, and suffered psychological deprivation.

At age 14, school performance was worse, many opting not to continue to secondary school. Teachers rated them more hyperactive and less sociable. They felt more rejected by their mothers than did the matched-pairs; and relationships with parents deteriorated over time.

By age 23 unwanted children showed a greater proneness to social problems, criminal activity, and had triple the amount of serious repeated offenses requiring custodial sentences. When questioned about their happiness and lifestyle they reported far more dissatisfaction, unhappiness, problems and worries than the controls. They mentioned poor relationships with their parents and knew that their parents were dissatisfied with them. Unwanted children reported repeated disappointments with love relationships and agreed with the statement: “love brings more trouble than pleasure.”

The unwanted children, themselves breast-fed for a significantly shorter time, gave the opinion that a child should be breast-fed for no longer than a month at most. Unwanted children drank more black coffee, smoked more heavily, and drank larger quantities of beer than their matched pairs. More of them were in psychiatric treatment. They coped less well than their counterparts with even mild stress.

Those who had married reported their marriages less satisfying, their pregnancies less often welcome, and required more time to develop a close relationships with the developing fetus they were carrying in their wombs. When asked how long they planned to stay at home with their child, most of these mothers said, until the end of paid maternity leave (2 yrs) while their matched-pair mothers said they expected to stay home until the child went to school.

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