July 2007

Reducing maternal mortality due to elective abortion: Potential impact of misoprostol in low-resource settings

Harper CC, Blanchard K, Grossman D, Henderson J, Darney P. Reducing maternal mortality due to abortion:  Potential impact of misoprostol in low-resource settings. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics. July 2007;98:66-9.

Over 99% of deaths due to abortion occur in developing countries. Maternal deaths due to abortion are preventable. Increasing the use of misoprostol for elective abortion could have a notable impact on maternal mortality due to abortion. As a test of this hypothesis, this study estimated the reduction in maternal deaths due to abortion in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The estimates were adjusted to changes in assumptions, yielding different possible scenarios of low and high estimates. This simple modeling exercise demonstrated that increased use of misoprostol, an option for pregnancy termination already available to many women in developing countries, could significantly reduce mortality due to abortion. Empirical testing of the hypothesis with data collected from developing countries could help to inform and improve the use of misoprostol in those settings.