Document Type



School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa


Background: Three-quarters of pregnancy terminations in Africa are carried out in unsafe conditions. Unsafe abortion is the leading cause of maternal mortality among 15–24 year-old women in Sub-Saharan Africa. Greater understanding of the wider determinants of pregnancy termination in 15–24 year-olds could inform the design and development of interventions to mitigate the harm. Previous research has described the trends in and factors associated with termination of pregnancy for women of reproductive age in Nigeria. However, the wider determinants of pregnancy termination have not been ascertained, and data for all women have been aggregated which may obscure differences by age groups. Therefore, we examined the trends in and individual and contextual-level predictors of pregnancy termination among 15–24 year-old women in Nigeria.

Methods: We analysed data from the 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2018 Nigerian Demographic and Health Surveys (NDHS) comprising 45,793 women aged 15–24 years. Trends in pregnancy termination across the four survey datasets were examined using bivariate analysis. Individual and contextual predictors of pregnancy termination were analysed using a three-level binary logistic regression analysis and are reported as adjusted odds ratios (aOR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI).

Results: Trends in pregnancy termination declined from 5.8% in 2003 to 4.2% in 2013 then reversed to 4.9% in 2018. The declining trend was greater for 15–24 year-old women with higher socioeconomic status. Around 17% of the total variation in pregnancy termination was attributable to community factors, and 7% to state-level factors. Of all contextual variables considered, only contraceptive prevalence (proxy for reproductive health service access by young women) at community level was significant. Living in communities with higher contraceptive prevalence increased odds of termination compared with communities with lower contraceptive prevalence (aOR = 4.2; 95% CI 2.7–6.6). At the individual-level, sexual activity before age 15 increased odds of termination (aOR = 2.3; 95% CI 1.9–2.8) compared with women who initiated sexual activity at age 18 years or older, and married women had increased odds compared with never married women (aOR = 3.0; 95% CI 2.5–3.7).

Conclusion: Our findings highlight the importance of disaggregating data for women across the reproductive Life course, and indicates where tailored interventions could be targeted to address factors associated with pregnancy termination among young women in Nigeria.

Publication (Name of Journal)

BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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