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Ethiop Med J. 1993 Jul;31(3):165-72.

A six month prospective study on different aspects of abortion.

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  • 1Sidamo Regional Hospital, Yirgalem, Ethiopia.


A six month prospective study on various aspects of abortion was conducted from April 1, 1991 to Sept. 30, 1991 in Sidamo Regional Hospital (Yirgalem). A total of 185 cases of abortion were seen. Of these, 64 (35%) were induced and 121 (65%) were spontaneous. There were 2 deaths in the illegally induced group abortion, 1 death in the other group. Induced abortion was higher in age group 20-24 (61%), single (65%), unemployed (70%), nulliparous (48%) and 7-12 grade educational level (67%). The pregnancy was unwanted in all cases of induced abortion and in 50 (41%) of the spontaneous cases. The common instruments used for inducing abortion were plastic catheters (58%) and metallic instruments (32%). The abortionists were mainly health workers (55%). The mean hospital stay was 6.3 days for illegally induced and 2.1 days for spontaneous abortions. The incidence of septic abortion was found to be statistically significantly higher in induced than in spontaneous abortion (p < 0.001) while haemorrhagic shock was not (p > 0.05). The type of anaesthesia and required procedure are also analyzed in this study. Eighty-eight percent of the study population did not use any type of contraception. The role of contraception in preventing unwanted pregnancy and therefore induced abortion is discussed.


In a 6-month prospective study conducted at Sidamo Regional Hospital (Yirgalem, Ethiopia) from April 1 to September 30, 1991, 185 cases of abortion were admitted. 64 (35%) of these abortions were illegally induced and 121 (65%) were spontaneous. During the study period, there were 443 gynecological admissions; thus, illegal abortion comprised 14% of total cases treated. There were 2 deaths in the induced abortion group (0.8% case fatality). 50 (78%) women with illegal abortions were under 25 years of age and 42 (66%) were unmarried. Instruments most often used to induce abortion were plastic catheters (56%) and metallic objects (32%); the procedure was performed by health workers in 55% of cases and friends in 39%. 122 (66%) of women admitted with induced abortion required evacuation and curettage. Complications of illegal abortion included septicemia (36 cases), hemorrhagic shock (12 cases), pelvic abscess (11 cases), and cervical trauma (22 cases). The mean hospital stay for induced abortion was 6.3 days compared with 2.1 days for spontaneous abortion. 83% of women in the induced abortion group were using no form of contraception prior to the unwanted pregnancy, 11% were using a method incorrectly, and 6% were considered to be proper users. Since 41% of women in the spontaneous abortion group reported that their pregnancy was unwanted, it is possible that some may have in fact undergone an illegal abortion. Unable to be measured were the long-term effects of illegal abortion, including chronic pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. Overall, these findings document the magnitude of the problem of illegal abortion in Ethiopia and indicate an urgent need for contraceptive education among young women.

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