Background: Maternal socioeconomic status is known to influence perinatal outcome. Antenatal care is free of charge in Sweden and all pregnant women are followed according to a standardized protocol of surveillance. The city of Malmö in southern Sweden is divided into 124 townships with great differences in socioeconomic standard. The aim of this study was to evaluate perinatal outcome according to the address of residence of the mothers within the city of Malmö.
Methods: Perinatal outcome of 7056 pregnancies was related to three socioeconomic characteristics of the 124 townships in Malmö: percentage of immigrants, percentage of inhabitants on social welfare and the median income.
Results: Maternal age was lower, number of abortions and parity were higher in low income areas. Perinatal complications were also more frequent, including low birthweight, small-for-gestational age newborns, maternal anemia, infections, and low 1- and 5-minute Apgar scores. Premature rupture of membranes was associated with low income areas. Symphysiolysis and pre-eclampsia were more frequent in the high income areas.
Conclusion: Although maternity care is provided free of charge, perinatal complications were more frequent in areas of lower socioeconomic status. In order to improve perinatal outcome, antenatal surveillance should be intensified in low class socioeconomic areas.