Socio-economic and demographic determinants of adverse birth outcome

Sarah Jones, Office for National Statistics

[Project number 20061]

Previous research has indicated that there is an association between the socio-economic circumstances of women and the outcome of their birth(s). In particular a decline in social status has been found to be a strong predictor of low birth weight(<2500g), which suggests that foetal growth is reduced under poor social circumstances. Studies have also shown that there is an increasing risk of adverse birth outcomes at older ages of women at first birth which may be associated with changing socio-economic circumstances. Since low birth weight is a risk factor for infant mortality and poor adult health it is important to try and measure the influence of socio-economic and demographic factors on adverse birth outcomes. There is also growing evidence that the area of residence of an individual has an influence on health status. This project will examine birth outcomes in the light of differing individual and area based factors.

This project will examine the association between the socio-economic and demographic circumstances of women and their birth outcomes using the LS. Adverse birth outcomes include low birth weight, still birth, neonatal and post natal deaths up to one year after birth as well as having a birth whilst still being a teenager. Some of the potential risk factors for adverse birth outcomes that will be examined are social class, economic status, educational level and marital status. The socio-economic circumstances of the women will be those reported at the last census prior to the birth of the child. Individual level effects as well as area-level effects will be analysed using multi-level modelling techniques. Area-level deprivation indices such as carstairs scores will be used to assess area level effects.