Complaints and complications in pregnancy: a study of ethnic Norwegian and ethnic Pakistani women in Oslo

Ethn Health. Feb-May 1999;4(1-2):19-28. doi: 10.1080/13557859998155.


Objectives: To describe the pattern of complaints and complications in pregnancy among ethnic Norwegian and ethnic Pakistani women in Oslo in order to modify antenatal care services.

Design: A cross-sectional study of hospital patients conducted in community hospitals in Oslo, Norway. A total of 137 obstetrical patients, 66 ethnic Pakistani and 71 ethnic Norwegian women were included in the study. Medical complications and subjective reported physical complaints during pregnancy were the main outcome measures.

Results: Among the ethnic Pakistani women complications were more common and the risks were higher for gestational diabetes [crude odds ratio (OR) = 5.6, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.5-20.5), intrauterine growth retardation (crude OR = 5.0, 95% CI = 1.4-18.8), hyperemesis gravidarum (crude OR = 3.7, 95% CI = 1.1-12.2) and anaemia (crude OR = 10.2, 95% CI = 3.3-31.4). The frequency of congenital malformations (p = 0.048, OR not calculated) were also higher. Among the ethnic Norwegian women the frequency of subjective reported physical complaints were more common and the risks were higher for pelvic girdle pain (crude OR = 0.4, 95% CI = 0.2-0.8) and exhaustion (crude OR = 0.2, 95% CI = 0.04-0.1). Infections such as hepatitis and tuberculosis only occurred in the Pakistani study group.

Conclusion: This study indicates that health personnel delivering antenatal care to women of Pakistani origin need to be watchful for the following conditions: gestational diabetes, hyperemesis gravidarum, early diagnosis of the type of anaemia, fetal malformations and infections like hepatitis and tuberculosis. In addition, a correct diagnosis of intrauterine growth retardation is important. Among ethnic Norwegian women pelvic girdle pain and exhaustion were common complaints.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Planning*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pakistan / ethnology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / ethnology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prenatal Care*