Background: Asylum seekers are assumed to be a vulnerable group with respect to sexual and reproductive health. The objective of this study was to quantify induced abortion and teenage birth indicators for this group.
Methods: The population comprised all female asylum seekers aged 15–49 in The Netherlands between September 2004 and August 2005. Information was collected about induced abortions from notification forms and electronic patient files. The central agency for the reception of asylum seekers provided population and birth data.
Results: Among asylum seekers the abortion rate (14.4/1000 women) and teenage birth rate (49.1/1000) were higher than average in The Netherlands (8.6/1000 and 5.8/1000). Great differences were found between subgroups. High abortion rates were seen among women who were pregnant on arrival or got pregnant in the first months after arrival at the reception facilities. Abortion and teenage birth rates were particularly high among asylum seekers aged 15–19 from specific parts of Africa and Asia. Abortion ratios were high among asylum seekers aged 30–49 from parts of Europe and Asia. Decreases in the abortion rate and teenage birth rate were observed as the length of stay increased.
Conclusion: Abortions and teenage births were more common among asylum seekers than among the overall population of The Netherlands. Increased rates were a consequence of subgroups being at high risk. Abortion and teenage birth rates were very high among women who were pregnant on arrival or got pregnant in the first few months after arrival, but decreased as the length of stay increased.
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Competing interests: None.
Funding: Netherlands Association for Community Health Services.
▸ An additional table is published online only at http://jech.bmj.com/content/vol63/issue7