Social gradients in health for Pakistani and White British women and infants in two UK birth cohorts

Ethn Health. 2016 Oct;21(5):452-67. doi: 10.1080/13557858.2015.1091442. Epub 2015 Oct 1.


Objectives: This study aims to examine social gradients in low birth weight (LBW), preterm birth, smoking during pregnancy and maternal health for women and infants of Pakistani origin and White British women and infants in the UK.

Design: The sample included women and singleton infants from the Born in Bradford (BiB) study (n = 8181) and the first sweep of the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) (n = 8980). Social gradients in health for four measures of socioeconomic status (SES): maternal education, means-tested benefits, financial situation, and occupation of the father were analysed in multivariate regression models adjusting for maternal age and parity.

Results: For White British mothers and infants in the MCS sample, social gradients in health were observed for at least three out of four measures of SES for each health outcome (p for trend <.01). Similar trends were found for White British mothers and infants in the BiB sample, although these were less likely to be significant. There were few associations between measures of SES and outcomes in the Pakistani samples. The strongest evidence of a social gradient in health for Pakistani women was demonstrated with the self-reported measure of financial situation, in relation to mental health (p for trend <.001 in both cohorts).

Conclusion: This study describes a lack of social gradients in health for Pakistani women and infants and discusses potential explanations for this finding.

Keywords: Born in Bradford; Ethnic inequalities; Millennium Cohort Study; UK; child health; ethnic minority; infant; low birth weight; maternal health; mental health; preterm; smoking; social inequalities.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asian People / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cultural Deprivation
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Health / ethnology*
  • Maternal Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Mental Health / ethnology
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Pakistan / epidemiology
  • Pakistan / ethnology
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth / epidemiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Social Class*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • United Kingdom / ethnology
  • White People / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult