Pregnancy-associated mortality after birth, spontaneous abortion, or induced abortion in Finland, 1987-2000

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2004 Feb;190(2):422-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2003.08.044.


Objective: To test the hypothesis that pregnant and recently pregnant women enjoy a "healthy pregnant women effect," we compared the all natural cause mortality rates for women who were pregnant or within 1 year of pregnancy termination with all other women of reproductive age.

Study design: This is a population-based, retrospective cohort study from Finland for a 14-year period, 1987 to 2000. Information on all deaths of women aged 15 to 49 years in Finland (n=15,823) was received from the Cause-of-Death Register and linked to the Medical Birth Register (n=865,988 live births and stillbirths), the Register on Induced Abortions (n=156,789 induced abortions), and the Hospital Discharge Register (n=118,490 spontaneous abortions) to identify pregnancy-associated deaths (n=419).

Results: The age-adjusted mortality rate for women during pregnancy and within 1 year of pregnancy termination was 36.7 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies, which was significantly lower than the mortality rate among nonpregnant women, 57.0 per 100,000 person-years (relative risk [RR] 0.64, 95% CI 0.58-0.71). The mortality was lower after a birth (28.2/100,000) than after a spontaneous (51.9/100,000) or induced abortion (83.1/100,000). We observed a significant increase in the risk of death from cerebrovascular diseases after delivery among women aged 15 to 24 years (RR 4.08, 95% CI 1.58-10.55).

Conclusion: Our study supports the healthy pregnant woman effect for all pregnancies, including those not ending in births.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / mortality
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / mortality
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Causality
  • Cause of Death / trends
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Maternal Mortality / trends*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / mortality
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular / mortality
  • Pregnancy Complications, Neoplastic / mortality
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / mortality