Effects on birthweights of maternal education, socio-economic status, and work-related characteristics

Scand J Soc Med. 1996 Mar;24(1):55-61. doi: 10.1177/140349489602400109.


Birthweights of 3,451 infants of women registered for antenatal care in Uppsala County, Sweden, were analyzed using three different maternal socio-economic indicators; education, socio-economic status and work environment exposure characteristics. Other explanatory variables were maternal age, parity, height, smoking habits, and length of gestation. Mean birthweights increase with longer education and higher socio-economic status. No general pattern was seen for work environment characteristics. When smoking habits are controlled for, social differences in birthweight decrease to non-significant values. A regression model with a socio-economic indicator alone explains only a minor part, less than 1%, of the variation in birthweight. When smoking is included, adding a socio-economic indicator does not significantly improve the model. Practically all social differences in birthweight are related to the differences in maternal age, parity, height, and smoking habits. If a socio-economic indicator is to be included in the analysis of birthweights (for other reasons like international comparisons), we recommend education.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Birth Weight*
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data*
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Women, Working / statistics & numerical data*