Reducing misclassification in assignment of timing of events during pregnancy

Epidemiology. 2005 Jan;16(1):121-3. doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000147120.50700.06.


Background: Perinatal epidemiology studies often collect only the calendar month in which an event occurs in early pregnancy because it is difficult for women to recall a specific day when queried later in pregnancy or postpartum. Lack of day information may result in incorrect assignment of completed gestational month because calendar months and pregnancy months are not aligned.

Methods: To examine the direction and magnitude of misclassification, we compared 3 methods for assignment of completed gestational month: 1) calendar month difference, 2) conditional month difference, and 3) imputed month midpoint. We used data from the Pregnancy, Infection, and Nutrition Study for simulations.

Results: Calendar month difference misclassified 54% of events as 1 month later in pregnancy compared with the actual completed month of gestation. Each of the other 2 methods misclassified approximately 12% of events to 1 month earlier and 12% to 1 month later.

Conclusions: Calendar month difference, a common method, has the greatest misclassification. Conditional month difference and imputed month midpoint, which require little effort to implement, are superior to calendar month difference for reducing misclassification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • North Carolina
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surrogate Mothers*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors