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J Epidemiol Community Health. 2009 Feb;63(2):106-12. doi: 10.1136/jech.2008.078741. Epub 2008 Oct 17.

Ethnic disparity in stillbirth and infant mortality in Denmark 1981-2003.

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National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark.



Ethnic minorities constitute a growing part of the Danish population but little is known about ethnic disparity in early life mortality in this population. The aim of this study was to investigate ethnic disparities in stillbirth risk and infant mortality in Denmark from 1981 to 2003.


From population-covering registries, all live and stillbirths of women from the five largest ethnic minority groups and of women from the (Danish) majority population (N = 1,333,452) were identified. The liveborn were followed up for vital status to the age of 1 year. Log-binomial regression was used to estimate relative risks according to ethnic group. The main outcome measure was stillbirth and infant death.


Compared with the majority population, the relative risks of stillbirth were 1.28 (95% CI: 1.07 to 1.53) for Turkish, 1.62 (1.25 to 2.09) for Pakistani and 2.11 (1.60 to 2.77) for Somali women. The relative risks of infant mortality were 1.41 (1.22 to 1.63), 1.88 (1.53 to 2.30) and 1.39 (1.03 to 1.89) for children born to Turkish, Pakistani and Somali mothers respectively. The fetal and infant mortality in offspring of Lebanese and Former Yugoslavian women was not different from the mortality in the Danish group. The differences found were, in general, not attributable to ethnic differences in socioeconomic position. Turkish, Pakistani and Somali children had an excess relative risk of infant death due to congenital malformations and the risk of death from perinatal causes was increased among the Pakistani offspring.


Among the five largest ethnic minorities, the Turkish. Pakistani and Somali population had substantially higher fetal and infant mortality compared with the Danish majority population, while the Lebanese and Former Yugoslavian minorities were at the same level as the majority population. The excess risk was not attributable to socioeconomic conditions.

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