Aims: In this paper, we examine income- and education-related inequality in small-for-gestational age (SGA) and preterm birth in Denmark and Finland from 1987 to 2003 using concentration indexes (CIXs).
Methods: From the national medical birth registries we gathered information on all births from 1987 to 2003. Information on highest completed maternal education and household income in the year preceding birth of the offspring was obtained for 1,012,400 births in Denmark and 499,390 in Finland. We then calculated CIXs for income- and education-related inequality in SGA and preterm birth.
Results: The mean household income-related inequality in SGA was -0.04 (95% confidence interval: -0.05, -0.04) in Denmark and -0.03 (-0.04, -0.02) in Finland. The maternal education-related inequality in SGA was -0.08 (-0.10, -0.06) in Denmark and -0.07 (-0.08, -0.06) in Finland. The income-related inequality in preterm birth was -0.03 (-0.03, -0.02) in Denmark and -0.03 (-0.04, -0.02) in Finland. The education-related inequality in preterm birth was -0.05 (-0.07, -0.04) in Denmark and -0.04 (-0.05, -0.03) in Finland. In Denmark, the income-related and education-related inequity in SGA increased over time. In Finland, the income-related inequality in SGA birth increased slightly, while education-related inequalities remained stable. Inequalities in preterm birth decreased over time in both countries.
Conclusions: Denmark and Finland are examples of nations with free prenatal care and publicly financed obstetric care of high quality. During the period of study there were macroeconomic shocks affecting both countries. However, only small income- and education-related inequalities in SGA and preterm births during the period were observed.