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Follow up Medical Abortions

Jul 31 2015

Two scientific studies led by researchers at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet are expected to form the basis of new international recommendations for the treatment of medical abortions and miscarriages. One of the studies, both of which are being published in The Lancet, shows that it is possible to replace the clinical follow-up examinations recommended today with medical abortions that include a home pregnancy test.

Some 20 million abortions are performed illegally, and often unsafely, every year at global level. They lead to around 50,000 deaths making unsafe, illegal abortions one of the most common causes of death among women of fertile age. With funding from WHO, researchers at Karolinska Institutet found that when the women were examined two weeks after, around 95 percent of the treatments had been performed safely and effectively.

The study included some 900 women from Finland, Norway, Sweden and Austria, who sought medical abortion treatment up to nine weeks of pregnancy. They were selected at random to either book a follow-up appointment within one to three weeks, which is routine today, or to perform a home pregnancy test which measures levels of a hormonehCG in the urine after one to three weeks. When the women were followed up there was no difference between the groups in terms of effectiveness or safety.

"The study shows that it is possible to simplify the routines for medicinal abortions by allowing women to check the completeness of an abortion by perform a urine test at home. This increases the safety of medicinal abortions, as many women today fail to turn up to the follow-up visit. The study is expected to form the basis of new international recommendations from WHO and a change in clinical practice regarding medical abortions in Sweden and globally," said Dr. Gemzell Danielsson.

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Dr. Gemzell Danielsson Sweden's Karolinska Institutet