Previous pregnancies among young women having an abortion in England and Wales

Lisa Ann McDaid (Lead Author), Jacqueline Collier, Mary Jane Platt

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Purpose: The purpose of this study is to use national statistics on abortions carried out in England and Wales to more precisely estimate the proportion of young women aged under 20 obtaining an abortion who have had one or more previous pregnancies.
Methods: Secondary analysis of abortion data from the Office of National Statistic and the Department of Health by parity for women under 20, ordinarily residing in England and Wales, from 1992 - 2013.
Results: Over the last 20 years, the proportion of teenagers in England and Wales having an abortion as a result of a subsequent pregnancy increased by 33% (from 0.172 in 1992 to 0.229 in 2013). The majority of this increase occurred prior to 2004 and the proportion now appears to have stabilised. In 2013, 22.9% of the young women aged under 20 who underwent an abortion had had at least one previous pregnancy (either a birth or an abortion). Only a minority (less than 5% of teenagers who obtained an abortion) had had more than one previous pregnancy.
Conclusions: The findings show that nearly one in four teenagers presenting for an abortion have already been in contact with health services for a previous birth or abortion. Greater policy emphasis must be placed on the accurate identification of the proportion of teenage pregnancies that occur as a result of a subsequent pregnancy and developing more effective 'secondary prevention' interventions to help first-time pregnant and parenting teenagers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-392
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number4
Early online date12 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


  • Teenage
  • Pregnancy
  • Termination
  • Abortion
  • Birth
  • Repeat
  • Subsequent

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