Objective: Ethnic minorities constitute a growing part of the Danish population but little is known about ethnic disparity in early life mortality in this population. The aim of this study was to investigate ethnic disparities in stillbirth risk and infant mortality in Denmark from 1981 to 2003. Design and settings: From population-covering registries we identified all live and stillbirths of women from the five largest ethnic minority groups and of women from the (Danish) majority population (n=1 333 452). The live born were followed-up for vital status to the age of 1 year. Log-binomial regression was used to estimate relative risks according to ethnic group.
Main outcome measure: Stillbirth and infant death.
Results: Compared to the majority population, the relative risks of stillbirth were 1.28 (95% confidence interval: 1.07-1.53) for Turkish, 1.62 (1.25-2.09) for Pakistani, and 2.11 (1.60-2.77) for Somali women. The relative risks of infant mortality were 1.41 (1.22-1.63), 1.88 (1.53-2.30), 1.39 (1.03-1.89) for children born of Turkish, Pakistani, and Somali mothers, respectively. The fetal and infant mortality in offspring of Lebanese and Former Yugoslavian women was not different from the mortality in the Danish group. The differences found were, in general, not attributable to ethnic differences in socioeconomic position. Turkish, Pakistani, and Somali children had an excess relative risk of infant death due to congenital malformations and the risk of death of perinatal causes was increased among the Pakistani offspring.
Conclusion: Among the five largest ethnic minorities, the Turkish. Pakistani, and Somali population had substantially higher fetal and infant mortality compared to the Danish majority population, while the Lebanese and Former Yugoslavian minorities were at the same level as the majority population. The excess risk was not attributable to socioeconomic conditions.
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