Ethics. Research. Community.

Fatal hemorrhage from legal abortion in the United States.

Surgery, gynecology & obstetrics. 
[Record Source: PubMed]
Deaths from hemorrhage associated with legal induced abortion should not occur. Yet hemorrhage was the third most frequent cause of death from legal abortion in the United States between 1972 and 1979. This study was undertaken to document the scope of the problem, to identify risk factors for fatal hemorrhage and to recommend ways of preventing these deaths. Deaths were identified through the CDC's nationwide surveillance of deaths from abortions; information on numbers and characteristics of women having legal abortions was obtained from CDC and the Alan Guttmacher Institute. Twenty-four women died from hemorrhage after legal abortion in the United States from 1972 to 1979, for a death-to-case rate of 0.3 deaths per 100,000 abortions (95 per cent confidence interval 0.2 to 0.5). Women who died from hemorrhage were significantly older than those who died from other causes (27.6 versus 24.4 years; p less than 0.05). Documented uterine perforation or rupture was far more frequent among women who died from hemorrhage than those who died from other causes (71 versus 8 per cent; p less than 0.001). Women who sustained uterine perforation or rupture were over 1,000 times more likely to die from hemorrhage than those who did not. Deaths from hemorrhage can be eliminated by preventing uterine trauma during abortion and by rapidly diagnosing and treating hemorrhage if it occurs.
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