The obstetric performance of United Kingdom asylum seekers from Somalia: a case-control study and literature review

Int J Fertil Womens Med. 2005 Jul-Aug;50(4):175-9.


Background: Little published research exists regarding obstetric performance of immigrant women in the United Kingdom. The aim of this study was to evaluate the obstetric performance and fetal outcomes of Somalian women who received prenatal care and requested to deliver at a teaching hospital in North London.

Method: This is a case-control study in which consecutive Somalian women were identified as index cases and the subsequent British-born Caucasian women listed in the delivery book served as controls.

Results: 69 index and 69 control cases were analyzed. Fifty-five percent of the Somalian women spoke little or no English. Half (50%) had undergone circumcision, the majority being type I WHO classification of female genital circumcision, which did not require significant surgical intervention prior to labor; 13% had cesarean sections, 13% instrumental vaginal deliveries, and 74% had vaginal deliveries. The Somalian women had higher parity (2.35 vs. 1.18) and were more likely to be grand multiparous (9/69 vs. 1/69) compared to controls. Epidural use was less frequent in Somalian women, but otherwise there were no significant differences between the two groups with regard to maternal age, rates of induction of labor, cesarean sections, duration of labor, premature deliveries, instrumental deliveries, and birth weights.

Conclusions: The demographic characteristics of the Somalian female population appear to exert minimal effect on obstetric and fetal outcomes. This may be due to the increased vigilance exercised by health professionals as well as to the fact that recent arrivals are from more urban and westernized areas in Somalia.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Delivery, Obstetric / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Labor, Obstetric / ethnology*
  • London / epidemiology
  • Maternal Health Services
  • Maternal Welfare / ethnology*
  • Maternal Welfare / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology*
  • Refugees / statistics & numerical data*
  • Somalia / ethnology
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Women's Health