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Scand J Public Health. 2017 May;45(3):222-229. doi: 10.1177/1403494817693456. Epub 2017 Mar 8.

Days of sick leave and inpatient care at the time of pregnancy and childbirth in relation to maternal age.

Author information

1 Center for Clinical Research Dalarna, Sweden.
2 Division of Insurance Medicine, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
3 Bergen University College, Norway.



To explore whether older women differ from younger women with respect to sick leave and inpatient care at the time around their first pregnancy and delivery.


This was a descriptive population-based cohort study. The study population included all 236,176 nulliparous women registered as living in Sweden who gave birth to their first singleton infant in 2006-2010. Data from nationwide Swedish registers were used. Maternal age was categorized in five-year intervals. Time was calculated in years with the delivery date as the starting point, from two years before and up to three years after delivery. Descriptive statistics were used to calculate mean values and ANOVA tables were used to obtain the 95% confidence intervals of the means. Restriction was used to reduce potential confounding.


Women aged ⩾35 years had a higher annual mean number of sick leave days from two years before to one year after their delivery date compared with younger women. The range for all age categories in the year before the delivery date, including pregnancy, was 15.3-37.4 mean sick leave days. The mean number of inpatient days increased with each age category during the year after the date of delivery in the range 1.4-4.3 days.


This first explorative study indicates the need for more knowledge on morbidity among older primiparous women. They had a higher number of days with sick leave and hospitalization in the year before and after their delivery date. This might reflect higher health risks during pregnancy and childbirth among older women; however, social factors and reverse causation might also be influential.


Maternal age; Sweden; cohort; hospitalization; population-based study; primiparous; sick leave

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