Immigrants have higher risks for some adverse obstetric outcomes. Furthermore, refugees are reported to be the most vulnerable group. This study compared obstetric outcomes between immigrant women originating from conflict-zone countries and ethnic Norwegians who gave birth in a low-risk setting.
This was a population-based study linking the Medical Birth Registry of Norway to Statistics Norway. The study included the first registered birth during the study period of women from Somalia (n = 278), Iraq (n = 166), Afghanistan (n = 71), and Kosovo (n = 67) and ethnic Norwegians (n = 6826) at Baerum Hospital from 2006–2010. Background characteristics and obstetric outcomes of each immigrant group were compared with ethnic Norwegians with respect to proportions and risks calculated by logistic regression models.
In total, 7408 women and their births were analyzed. Women from Somalia were most at risk for adverse obstetric outcomes. Compared with ethnic Norwegians, they had increased odds ratios (OR) for emergency cesarean section (OR 1.81, CI 1.17–2.80), postterm birth (OR 1.93, CI 1.29–2.90), meconium-stained liquor (OR 2.39, CI 1.76–3.25), and having a small-for-gestational-age infant (OR 3.97, CI 2.73–5.77). They had a reduced OR for having epidural analgesia (OR 0.40, CI 0.28–0.56) and a large-for-gestational-age infant (OR 0.32, CI 0.16–0.64). Women from Iraq and Afghanistan had increased risk of having a small-for-gestational-age infant with OR of 2.21 (CI 1.36–3.60) and 2.77 (CI 1.42–5.39), respectively. Iraqi women also had reduced odds ratio of having a large-for-gestational-age infant (OR 0.35, CI 0.15–0.83). Women from Kosovo did not differ from ethnic Norwegians in any of the outcomes we tested.
Even in our low-risk maternity ward, women originating from Somalia were at the greatest risk for adverse obstetric outcomes in the compared groups. We could not find the same risk among the other immigrant women, also originating from conflict-zone countries. Several factors may influence these findings, and this study suggests that immigrant women from Somalia need more targeted care during pregnancy and childbirth.
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