Seasonality of abortion in the United Kingdom 

Seasonality of abortion in the United Kingdom 

S. Rowlands (1), P.

Hannaford (2) 

bpas (1); Department of General Practice and Primary Care,

University of Aberdeen, UK (2) 

Seasonal variation in induced abortions has

been previously described but most available data are produced by month or by

quarter. In England & Wales a peak in the first quarter of the year is

observed each year. We have extracted weekly data for both abortions and phone

calls received at the national call centre for the abortion charity bpas,

which provides almost 50,000 abortions each year in the independent sector in

the UK. There was a sustained rise in abortions in February; in most years

examined this peaked between the 5th and the 7th week of the year. For example,

in 1999 the highest number of abortions was in the week ending 13 February at

1,013; the mean weekly abortions that year was 861. This number of abortions

in the 7th week of 1999 was 16% higher than the number of abortions in the 2nd

week of the year. The number of phone calls peaks slightly earlier than the

number of abortions. In 2003 there was a sustained rise in phone calls from

mid-January to mid- February, peaking in the 5th week of the year at 6,513

calls; the mean weekly calls that year was 4,993. The two peaks reflect first

the diagnosis of the unwanted pregnancy and then the abortion procedure being

carried out. Both these seasonal changes reflect an increase in sexual

activity at Christmas time. Service providers need to be aware of this when

planning available appointments for consultation and treatment and also when

considering the timing of preventive campaigns.

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