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Open Access Research article

Perinatal mortality in non-western migrants in Norway as compared to their countries of birth and to Norwegian women

Zainab Naimy1*, Jostein Grytten12, Lars Monkerud3 and Anne Eskild14

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Akershus University Hospital, Lorenskog, Norway

2 Department of Community Dentistry, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

3 BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway

4 Department of Mental Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:37  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-37

Published: 15 January 2013



A large number of women from countries with a high perinatal mortality rate (PMR) settle in countries with a low PMR. We compared the PMRs for migrants in Norway with the PMRs in their countries of birth. We also assessed the risk of perinatal death in offspring of migrant women as compared to offspring of Norwegian women.


The Medical Birth Registry of Norway and the Norwegian Central Person Registry provided data on births in Norway during the years 1986 to 2005 among all women born in Norway, Pakistan, Vietnam, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Iraq, Thailand and Afghanistan. Information on the PMRs in the countries of birth was obtained from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the years 1995, 2000 and 2004. Mean PMRs in Norway during 1986–2005 were calculated by mother’s country of birth, and the risks of perinatal death by country of birth were estimated as odds ratios (OR) using Norwegian women as the reference. Adjustments were made for mother’s age, plurality, parity, year of birth and gestational age at birth.


The PMRs for migrants in Norway were lower than in their countries of birth. The largest difference was in Afghan women (97 deaths per 1000 births in Afghanistan versus 24 deaths per 1000 births in Afghan women in Norway), followed by Iraqi and Somali women. As compared with Norwegian women, the adjusted odds ratio (OR) of perinatal death was highest for Afghan (OR 4.01 CI: 2.40 – 6.71), Somali (OR 1.83 CI: 1.44 - 2.34) and Sri Lankan (OR 1.76 CI: 1.36 – 2.27) women.


The lower PMRs for migrants in Norway as compared to the PMRs in their countries of birth may be explained by access to better health care after migration. The increased risk of perinatal death in migrants as compared to Norwegians encourages further research.

Migrant; Perinatal mortality rate; Perinatal death; Maternal health