Unemployment and pregnancy outcomes: a study within the Danish National Birth Cohort

Scand J Public Health. 2011 Jul;39(5):449-56. doi: 10.1177/1403494811407672. Epub 2011 May 10.


Aims: To explore the relation between employment status, type of unemployment and pregnancy outcomes.

Methods: A cohort study of 7,282 pregnancies of unemployed women and 56,014 pregnancies among women in paid jobs was performed within the Danish National Birth Cohort. Pregnancy outcomes were ascertained and information about lifestyle, occupational, medical, and obstetric factors was obtained. Logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios (OR) for fetal loss, congenital anomalies, multiple births, sex ratio, preterm and very preterm birth and small for gestational age status, adjusting for lifestyle, medical and obstetric factors.

Results: There were no differences in pregnancy outcomes between employed and unemployed women but women receiving unemployment benefit had an increased risk of preterm birth (adjusted OR (aOR) 1.16, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.03-1.31) and having a small for gestational age child (aOR 1.08, 95% CI 1.00-1.19) compared with employed women. Women receiving sickness or maternity benefit had an increased risk of multiple birth (aOR 1.70, 95% CI 1.43-2.04), preterm (aOR 1.47, 95% CI 1.22-1.77) and very preterm birth (aOR 1.88, 95% CI 1.22-2.89), while those receiving an unreported type of support had an increased risk of preterm birth (aOR 1.40, 95% CI 1.02-1.93).

Conclusions: We found no indication that being unemployed during pregnancy benefits or endangers the health of the child. Within the subgroups of unemployed women, we observed that women receiving unemployment and sickness or maternity benefits were at higher risk for some adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / etiology
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Unemployment*
  • Young Adult