According to the researchers, in developed countries, about 6.7 million abortions are performed every year, with a large proportion on teens aged 19 or younger.
In Canada, the teen pregnancy rate is 28 per 1000, with more than 50 percent of these ending in abortions.
"Research shows there is an association between mothers and daughters in the timing of a first pregnancy ending in a live birth. We wanted to see whether the same tendency exists for pregnancies ending in an induced abortion," said co-author of the study, Joel Ray from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Toronto, Ontario.
The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, included data on 431 623 daughters born in Ontario obtained from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and linked to other databases that provided information on mother-daughter pairs.
There were 73 518 daughters whose mothers had had at least one abortion (exposed group) and 358 105 daughters whose mothers had none (unexposed group).
In the exposed group, the probability of having an abortion during their teenage years was 10.1 percent, compared with 4.2 percent in the unexposed group.
As the majority of those abortions (94.5 percent) occurred before 15 weeks gestation, it's unlikely that the reason was a genetic or birth defect in the foetus in most cases and it may be reasonable to assume social indications, the researcher said.
There was also a dose-response effect — the greater number of abortions in the mother, the greater the number of abortions in her teenage daughter.
Study limitations include a lack of information on the fathers, the marital status and education levels of both mother and daughter, or family dynamics and attitudes.