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Paternal education and adverse birth outcomes in Canada


Background Research on predictors of adverse birth outcomes has focused on maternal characteristics. Much less is known about the role of paternal factors. Paternal education is an important socioeconomic marker that may predict birth outcomes over and above maternal socioeconomic indicators.

Methods Using data from the 2006 Canadian Birth-Census Cohort, we estimated the associations between paternal education and preterm birth, small-for-gestational-age (SGA) birth, stillbirth and infant mortality in Canada, controlling for maternal characteristics. Binomial regression was used to estimate risk ratios and risk differences for adverse birth outcomes associated with paternal education, after controlling for maternal education, age, marital status, parity, ethnicity and nativity.

Results A total of 131 285 singleton births were included in the present study. Comparing the lowest to the highest paternal education category, adjusted risk ratios (95% CIs) were 1.22 (1.10 to 1.35) for preterm birth, 1.13 (1.03 to 1.23) for SGA birth, 1.92 (1.28 to 2.86) for stillbirth and 1.67 (1.01 to 2.75) for infant mortality. Consistent patterns of associations were observed for absolute risk differences.

Conclusions Our study suggests that low paternal education increases the risk of adverse birth outcomes, and especially of fetal and infant mortality, independently from maternal characteristics.


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