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Contraception. 1997 Jan;55(1):11-4.

Increased number of induced abortions in Norway after media coverage of adverse vascular events from the use of third-generation oral contraceptives.

Author information

1
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital of Trondheim, Norway.

Abstract

After the press release in Lancet (October 18, 1995) of increased risks for adverse vascular events in users of pills containing desogestrel and gestodene the total sales of oral contraceptives dropped over a two-month period by 17%, while sales of the only desogestrel brand available (Marvelon) dropped by over 70% in Norway. From sales, we can estimate that more than 45,000 women either changed from Marvelon to a second or first-generation brand or stopped using OCs. In total, more than 25,000 women discontinued OC use in Norway during November and December of 1995. Abortion data from one Norwegian county, representing 6-7% of the Norwegian population, show no statistically significant changes in the total number of induced abortions from the first quarter of 1996 as compared with that of the first quarter in preceding years. However, abortion rates that had been steadily decreasing from 1992 through 1995 in women 24 years old or younger, were promptly interrupted by a significant 36% increase during the first quarter of 1996. Most of the additional cases were found among single, childless students. The observed increased abortion rate among younger women is most probably linked to changes in contraceptive use during the pill scare of the late October through December of 1995, during which time these women conceived.

PIP:

Reports appearing in the mass media in October 1995 citing a two-fold increase in the risk of venous thromboembolism in users of third-generation compared to second-generation oral contraceptives (OCs) were followed, in Norway, by a 17% drop in total OC sales and a 70% drop in sales of the only third-generation OC (Marvelon) on the market. More than 25,000 Norwegian women discontinued OC use in November-December 1995. Abortion data from one Norwegian county, representing 6-7% of the country's population, showed no significant changes in the total number of induced abortions in the first quarter of 1996 compared to the first quarter of preceding years. However, the steady decrease in the abortion rate for women 24 years of age or younger recorded in 1992-95 was interrupted by a 36% increase during the first quarter of 1996 (5.7/1000, compared with 4.2/1000 in the first quarter of 1995). Most of the growth in abortion cases occurred among single, childless students--a subgroup in which OC use tends to be high. Although this finding suggests that the mass media's "pill scare" may have led many young women to discontinue OC use or switch to less effective formulations, evaluation of the full effect of this event cannot be completed without national data on induced abortion and the completion of birth registration.

PMID:
9013055
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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