Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Ethnic disparity in stillbirth and infant mortality in Denmark 1981–2003
  1. S Fredsted Villadsen1,
  2. L H Mortensen1,
  3. A M Nybo Andersen2
  1. 1
    National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. 2
    Division of Epidemiology, Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
  1. L H Mortensen, Øster Farimagsgade 5A, 2nd floor, 1399 Copenhagen K, Denmark; laust.mortensen{at}


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.

Methods: From population-covering registries, 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) were identified. The liveborn 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. The main outcome measure was stillbirth and infant death.

Results: Compared with the majority population, the relative risks of stillbirth were 1.28 (95% CI: 1.07 to 1.53) for Turkish, 1.62 (1.25 to 2.09) for Pakistani and 2.11 (1.60 to 2.77) for Somali women. The relative risks of infant mortality were 1.41 (1.22 to 1.63), 1.88 (1.53 to 2.30) and 1.39 (1.03 to 1.89) for children born to 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 from 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 with 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.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding: None declared.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Ethics approval: Not necessary in this type of research according to Danish legislation.