Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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1. arrest of a process or disease before completion.

2. interruption of pregnancy before the fetus has attained a stage of viability, usually before the 24th gestational week. There are two classes: an induced abortion is the termination of a pregnancy, often for medical reasons, by means other than those causing spontaneous abortion (aka clinical abortion, therapeutic abortion, feticide). A spontaneous abortion is the natural termination of a pregnancy before the fetus can survive outside the uterus (between 0 and 20 weeks); occurs in about 30% of first pregnancies, frequently so early that a woman is not aware that she was pregnant, and is most often due to chromosomal errors (50-60%); sometimes applied to a specific period of gestation, such as during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy (aka early fetal death).

See miscarriage and stillbirth.

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From "Dictionary of Nursing and Individual Health Care"