Introduction Legal abortions in Brazil are restricted to risk of maternal death and rape. The aim of this study was to characterise abortion cases at a public maternity in Natal, Brazil. Method: This is a quantitative descriptive study. The population included all adolescents and young adults (1554) hospitalised as a result of illegal abortions in 2007 and 2008.
Results Abortion accounted for 98% of emergency cases; mean age was 20 years; mean gestational age was 11 weeks; 93% denied induced abortion. The most common cause of hospitalisation was abdominal pain accompanied by haemorrhage (60%); incomplete abortion (74.4%); 60% underwent curettage and 40% manual intrauterine aspiration. There was a positive association between aspiration, higher gestational age and maternal age; one-day hospitalisation without complications or counselling (93%).
Conclusion There is a serious public health problem with high occurrence of abortions in progress and only emergency care.
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