To investigate the differences in perinatal death and child mortality between different ethnic groups in the Netherlands.
Retrospective analysis of data collected between 1990 and 1993 in the national obstetric registry comprising 569 743 births. Retrospective analysis of all death certificates of 0 to 15 year old children routinely collected between 1979 and 1993, comprising 20 211 deaths.
Black mothers had the highest perinatal death rate compared with indigenous Dutch mothers (odds ratio 2.2). Hindustanis (West Indian Asians) had an odds ratio of 1.4 and Mediterraneans 1.3. The increased rate for black and Hindustani women could be fully explained by preterm birth. In the Mediterranean group the differences were explained by teenage pregnancy, grand multiparity, and socioeconomic status rather than prematurity. The death rate of Turkish and Moroccan children was twice as high as that of native Dutch children. For the different diagnostic categories this was: infectious diseases, relative risk (RR) 2.2; hereditary (metabolic) disorders, RR 2.0; accidents and drowning, RR 1.9. One quarter of the Turkish and Moroccan children died while on holiday in their country of origin. Sudden infant death syndrome was twice as high for Turkish infants as for Dutch children and four times higher than for Moroccan infants.
Ethnic minorities in the Netherlands have a higher perinatal and child mortality rate than the indigenous Dutch. Apart from socioeconomic differences, sociocultural and lifestyle factors play an important role.
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