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Swedish studies could change abortions, miscarriages treatments | Updated: 2015-03-30 09:21

Two studies led by researchers at Sweden's Karolinska Institute are expected to impact international guidelines for the treatment of medicinal abortions and miscarriages.

The first study included around 900 women from Finland, Norway, Sweden and Austria who sought medicinal abortion treatment up to nine weeks of pregnancy. The study shows that it is possible to replace today's recommended clinical follow-up examinations with a home pregnancy test through which women can check the completeness of an abortion.

"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 the World Health Organization (WHO) and a change in clinical practice regarding medical abortions in Sweden and globally," said Dr. Gemzell Danielsson, a professor at the Department of Women's and Children's Health at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and a chief physician at Karolinska's Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

An "incomplete abortion" , when there is residual tissue in the uterus following a failed abortion treatment or miscarriage, can result in bleeding and infection and is a potentially life-threatening condition. However, it can effectively be treated with the medicine misoprostol, a statement from Karolinska claimed.

The second study, conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institute and Uganda's Markerere University with funding from WHO, included around 1,000 women from rural districts of Uganda. It shows that midwives in those regions can safely and effectively treat failed abortions and miscarriages with misoprostol.

"As the midwives far outnumber the doctors in Uganda and many other low-income countries, this increases the availability of treatment for incomplete abortions and miscarriages, which saves women's lives. The study will form the basis of new guidelines from the WHO, which will recommend that midwives be allowed to handle the treatment of incomplete abortions," said Danielsson.

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