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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Does unemployment in family affect pregnancy outcome in conditions of high quality maternity care?

Kaisa Raatikainen*, Nonna Heiskanen and Seppo Heinonen

Author Affiliations

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Kuopio University Hospital, P.O.Box 1777, 70211 Kuopio, Finland

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:46  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-46

Published: 24 February 2006



The influence of unemployment in the family on pregnancy outcome is controversial. Only a few studies have involved investigation of the effect of unemployment of the father on pregnancy. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of unemployment of one or both parents on obstetric outcome in conditions of free antenatal care attended by the entire pregnant population.


The data of 24 939 pregnancies included maternal risk factors, pregnancy characteristics and outcome, and was based on a self administered questionnaire at 20 weeks of pregnancy and on clinical records.


Unemployment was associated with adolescent maternal age, unmarried status and overweight, anemia, smoking, alcohol consumption and prior pregnancy terminations. Multivariate logistic regression analysis indicated that after controlling for these maternal risk factors small differences only were found in pregnancy outcomes between unemployed and employed families. Unemployed women had significantly more often small-for-gestational-age (SGA) infants, at an OR of 1.26 (95% CI: 1.12 – 1.42) whereas, in families where both parents were unemployed, the risk of SGA was even higher at an OR of 1.43 (95% CI: 1.18 – 1.73). Otherwise, pregnancy outcome was comparable in the groups studied.


Free antenatal care was unable to fully overcome the adverse pregnancy outcomes associated with unemployment, SGA risk being highest when both parents are unemployed.