Objectives: Unsafe abortion is a public health concern because of its impact on maternal morbidity and mortality. The objective of this study was to document on induced abortion in Yaounde, Cameroon.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: Six antenatal clinics in Yaounde, Cameroon.
Methods: Women attending antenatal clinics between October and December 1998 were included in the study and interviewed. Nulliparous were women with no previous delivery and multiparous were defined as women who had at least one previous delivery.
Results: Out of the 1532 women, five hundred seventy-two were nulliparous and 960 were multiparous. Of the nulliparous women 17% reported a previous abortion ever; this proportion exceeded 35% in those over 24 years. For multiparous women, the proportion who reported an abortion (between the last birth and present pregnancy) was 22%. In multivariate analysis on the group of nulliparous women, older age, having used modern contraception and having spent more than two years in the city were significantly associated with induced abortion. In the multiparous group, older age, having a full time job and antenatal clinic were significantly associated with induced abortion.
Conclusions: This study shows that induced abortion is a common practice in urban Cameroon. Because of restrictive laws, a substantial proportion of these abortions are likely to be unsafe, with the risk of associated complications. There is a need for expanded comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services.