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June 7, 1985

Deaths From Spontaneous Abortion in the United States

JAMA. 1985;253(21):3119-3123. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350450091028

Little is known about maternal deaths after spontaneous abortion. We studied 122 such deaths reported to the Centers for Disease Control from 1972 through 1980; 21 were intrauterine (contraceptive) device related. The number of non-IUD-related deaths decreased from 15 in 1972 to six in 1980; the mortality ratio (deaths per million live births) decreased from 4.6 in 1972 to 1.7 in 1980. Non-IUD-related deaths were results of infection (48%), hemorrhage (21%), embolism (11%), and other causes (20%). Risk factors for these deaths were age over 29 years, being of minority race, and unmarried status. Most deaths (58%) occurred between 12 and 19 weeks' gestation. The risk of death was much higher for abortion in the second trimester than in the first. Deaths following spontaneous abortion, although rare, do occur; older, black, and unmarried women are at higher risk.

(JAMA 1985;253:3119-3123)