Birthweight and gestational age by ethnic group, England and Wales 2005: introducing new data on births

Health Stat Q. Autumn 2008;(39):22-31, 34-55.


Low birthweight babies and babies born preterm are at increased risk of morbidity and mortality in the first year of life, as well as in the longer-term. Since information on ethnic group is not recorded at birth registration in England and Wales, it has not been possible to produce routine statistics on birthweight or gestational age by ethnic group. A new system, introduced in 2002, for allocating NHS numbers at birth (NN4B) provided the opportunity to obtain ethnic group information. The NN4B record includes information on the ethnic group of the baby classified according to the 2001 Census categories. This paper presents the first analyses of ethnic differences in birthweight and gestational age at birth for England and Wales as a whole. Utilising NN4B records linked with birth registration records for all births occurring in England and Wales in 2005, birthweight and gestational age distributions, including the percentages low birthweight and preterm, are compared between ethnic groups. The paper also examines how parental socio-demographic circumstances vary by ethnic group.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Birth Weight*
  • England / epidemiology
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Gestational Age*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Marital Status
  • Maternal Age
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Outcome / ethnology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Wales / epidemiology
  • Young Adult