• We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Logo of jepicomhJournal of Epidemiology and Community HealthVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
J Epidemiol Community Health. Jun 1999; 53(6): 355–358.
PMCID: PMC1756885

Inequalities in low birth weight: parental social class, area deprivation, and "lone mother" status

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To describe the extent of socioeconomic inequalities in low birth weight. To assess the relative benefits of measuring socioeconomic status by individual occupation, socioeconomic deprivation status of area of residence, or both, for describing inequalities and targeting resources. DESIGN: Analysis of birth registrations by registration status: joint compared with sole registrants ("lone mothers"), routinely recorded parental occupation (father's for joint registrants), and census derived enumeration district (ED) deprivation. SETTING: England and Wales, 1986-92. SUBJECTS: 471,411 births with coded parental occupation (random 10% sample) and birth weight. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Proportion of low birth weight (< 2500 g) RESULTS: 34% of births to joint registrants in social classes IV and V, and 45% of births to sole registrants, were in the quintile of most deprived EDs. It was found that 6.8% of births were of low birth weight. Sole registrants were at higher risk (9.3% overall) than joint registrants, across all deprivation quintiles. For joint registrants, the socioeconomic risk gradient was similar by social class or area deprivation, but a greater gradient from 4.7% to 8.7% was found with combined classification. CONCLUSIONS: Up to 30% of low birth weight can be seen as being associated with levels of socioeconomic deprivation below that of the most affluent group, as measured in this study. Caution is needed when targeting interventions to high risk groups when using single indicators. For example, the majority of births to lone mothers and to joint registrants in social classes IV and V would be missed by targeting the most deprived quintile. There is a high degree of inequality in low birth weight according to social class, area deprivation and lone mother status. When using routinely recorded birth and census data, all three factors are important to show the true extent of inequalities.

 

Full Text

The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (104K).

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Barker DJ, Winter PD, Osmond C, Margetts B, Simmonds SJ. Weight in infancy and death from ischaemic heart disease. Lancet. 1989 Sep 9;2(8663):577–580. [PubMed]
  • Leon DA. Influence of birth weight on differences in infant mortality by social class and legitimacy. BMJ. 1991 Oct 19;303(6808):964–967. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Dolk H, Mertens B, Kleinschmidt I, Walls P, Shaddick G, Elliott P. A standardisation approach to the control of socioeconomic confounding in small area studies of environment and health. J Epidemiol Community Health. 1995 Dec;49 (Suppl 2):S9–14. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Judge K, Benzeval M. Health inequalities: new concerns about the children of single mothers. BMJ. 1993 Mar 13;306(6879):677–680. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Carstairs V, Morris R. Deprivation and mortality: an alternative to social class? Community Med. 1989 Aug;11(3):210–219. [PubMed]
  • Morris R, Carstairs V. Which deprivation? A comparison of selected deprivation indexes. J Public Health Med. 1991 Nov;13(4):318–326. [PubMed]
  • Kaplan GA. People and places: contrasting perspectives on the association between social class and health. Int J Health Serv. 1996;26(3):507–519. [PubMed]
  • Sloggett A, Joshi H. Higher mortality in deprived areas: community or personal disadvantage? BMJ. 1994 Dec 3;309(6967):1470–1474. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health are provided here courtesy of BMJ Group

Formats:

Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...

Links

  • MedGen
    MedGen
    Related information in MedGen
  • PubMed
    PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...