Complications of induced abortion and miscarriage in three African countries: a hospital-based study among WHO collaborating centers

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2001 Jun;80(6):568-73.


Objective: The aim of this study was to describe two of the outcomes of pregnancy, induced abortion and miscarriage, in three African countries. Major maternal risk factors were also evaluated.

Methods: The study was prospective and based on the medical files of all 1,957 women admitted to participating health care structures.

Results: Overall, 988 women were admitted for complications of miscarriage, and 969 for complications of induced abortion. Gestational age was lower in women with miscarriages (p<0.002). The level of use of contraceptive methods ((p<0.003) and educational level ((p<0.005) were lower in women who had had an induced abortion. In our study, 26 maternal deaths were recorded, 22 of which were associated with induced abortion. Infection was the most important risk factor for death (OR=4.8; 1.9-12.4).

Conclusion: Maternal deaths related to abortion complications often occurred shortly after hospital admission and with signs of sepsis. This demonstrates the importance of effective emergency services. Unfortunately, hospital-based studies alone cannot assess all maternal death risk factors, especially those for maternal death related to induced abortion complications. It is therefore important to determine what happened to the woman before hospital admission and during her stay in hospital. Combinations of qualitative and quantitative methods could be used to increase our understanding of this problem and to help us to solve it.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / adverse effects*
  • Abortion, Induced / mortality*
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / diagnosis
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / epidemiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Benin / epidemiology
  • Cameroon / epidemiology
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Developing Countries*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Maternity
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Maternal Mortality / trends*
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Probability
  • Prospective Studies
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • Senegal / epidemiology
  • World Health Organization