Maternal education and risk of offspring death; changing patterns from 16 weeks of gestation until one year after birth

Eur J Public Health. 2014 Feb;24(1):157-62. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckt065. Epub 2013 Jun 19.


Background: The social disparity in perinatal mortality may vary by the age of the offspring. We studied offspring mortality from pregnancy week 16 until 1 year after birth by maternal educational level.

Methods: We included all births in Norwegian women during the years 1999-2004 (n = 297 663). The Medical Birth Registry of Norway was linked to the Norwegian Education Registry to obtain individual information on maternal education at the time of delivery. Information on infant mortality was obtained by linkage to the Norwegian Central Person Registry.

Results: In pregnancy weeks 37 through 43 and in the first week after birth, there was little difference in offspring mortality by maternal education. Before pregnancy week 37, the excess offspring mortality associated with compulsory school only was >60% using university/college education as the reference. During the 2nd through 12th month after birth, the excess mortality was 132% in offspring of mothers with compulsory school only.

Conclusion: The social disparity in offspring mortality was lowest in pregnancies at term and in the first week after birth. In this period, all women living in Norway and their infants use the public health care service extensively. Our results may suggest that health care that is equally available to all citizens, reduces social disparities in mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Fetal Death / epidemiology
  • Gestational Age
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult