Social inequality and infant health in the UK: systematic review and meta-analyses.
To determine the association between area and individual measures of social disadvantage and infant health in the UK.
Systematic review and meta-analyses.
26 databases and websites, reference lists, experts in the field and hand-searching.
36 prospective and retrospective observational studies with socioeconomic data and health outcomes for infants in the UK, published from 1994 to May 2011.
DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS
2 independent reviewers assessed the methodological quality of the studies and abstracted data. Where possible, study outcomes were reported as ORs for the highest versus the lowest deprivation quintile.
In relation to the highest versus lowest area deprivation quintiles, the odds of adverse birth outcomes were 1.81 (95% CI 1.71 to 1.92) for low birth weight, 1.67 (95% CI 1.42 to 1.96) for premature birth and 1.54 (95% CI 1.39 to 1.72) for stillbirth. For infant mortality rates, the ORs were 1.72 (95% CI 1.37 to 2.15) overall, 1.61 (95% CI 1.08 to 2.39) for neonatal and 2.31 (95% CI 2.03 to 2.64) for post-neonatal mortality. For lowest versus highest social class, the odds were 1.79 (95% CI 1.43 to 2.24) for low birth weight, 1.52 (95% CI 1.44 to 1.61) for overall infant mortality, 1.42 (95% CI 1.33 to1.51) for neonatal and 1.69 (95% CI 1.53 to 1.87) for post-neonatal mortality. There are similar patterns for other infant health outcomes with the possible exception of failure to thrive, where there is no clear association.
This review quantifies the influence of social disadvantage on infant outcomes in the UK. The magnitude of effect is similar across a range of area and individual deprivation measures and birth and mortality outcomes. Further research should explore the factors that are more proximal to mothers and infants, to help throw light on the most appropriate times to provide support and the form(s) that this support should take.
Support Unit for Research Evidence (SURE), Information Services, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.
SourceBMJ open 2:3 2012 pg
Pub Type(s)Journal Article