Maternal health and pregnancy outcomes among women of refugee background from Asian countries

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Background: Many refugees from Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma and Iraq have resettled in Australia, however little is known about pregnancy outcomes in these populations. This study aimed to describe maternal health, pregnancy care attendance and pregnancy outcomes among women of refugee background from these countries, compared to nonrefugee migrant women. Method: Retrospective, observational study of singleton births, at the largest maternity service in Victoria, Australia 2002–2011, to women born in humanitarian source countries (HSCs) and non-HSCs from South Asia (n = 9342), South-East Asia (n = 5681) and West Asia (n = 1277). Results: Compared to the non-HSC groups, overweight (43–67%), age < 20 years (0.3–6.5%), anaemia (3.5–9.4%) and vitamin-D deficiency/ insufficiency (26–37%) were generally more common in the HSC groups. Gestational diabetes was common across all groups (7.5–11%). After adjusting for maternal age, BMI, parity and socio-economic disadvantage, among women from South Asia, HSC-birth was independently associated with poor/no pregnancy care attendance (OR = 4.2 95%CI:2.5–7.3), late booking visit (OR = 1.3 95%CI:1.1–1.5) and birth > 41 weeks (OR = 3.0 95%CI:2.0–4.5) Among women from South-East Asia, HSC-birth was independently associated with labour induction (OR = 2.0 95%CI:1.1–3.5). There were no independent associations between HSC-birth and adverse pregnancy outcomes among West Asian women. Conclusions: Compared to women of non-refugee background, women of refugee background had poorer general health that may be improved by early pregnancy care. While adverse pregnancy outcomes were generally not more common among women of refugee background, they may have a high risk of long-term metabolic diseases. In women from Afghanistan and Bhutan, targeted strategies to improve pregnancy care engagement may also reduce post-term birth incidence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-12
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventAnnual Congress of the Perinatal-Society-of-Australia-and-New-Zealand 2014 - Crown, Perth, Australia
Duration: 6 Apr 20149 Apr 2014
Conference number: 18th

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