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Mother's education and adverse birth outcomes
  1. Leigh Tooth,
  2. Gita D Mishra
  1. School of Public Health, The University of Queensland, Public Health Building, Mayne Medical School, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Gita D Mishra, School of Public Health, The University of Queensland, Public Health Building, Mayne Medical School, Herston Road, Herston, Brisbane, QLD 4006, Australia; G.Mishra{at}

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Babies born too soon or too small face many difficulties, including increased rates of mortality and lifelong disability.1 The 2012 Global Action Report on Preterm Birth ‘Born Too Soon’ presents a sobering picture: 15 million (1 in 10) babies every year are born too soon, with these rates appearing to be rising globally.1 Low levels of maternal education have been clearly associated with adverse birth outcomes such as preterm birth and low birth weight.2–4 While education is only one risk factor—alongside other critical factors such as maternal age, birth order and spacing, multiple pregnancies, body weight, chronic disease, mental health, infectious diseases, health risk behaviours such as smoking, intimate partner violence, and access to screening and health services1 ,5—it matters, because education enables girls and women to make informed decisions about their reproductive health and interactions with the healthcare system.6 Increasing education levels is a key component of programmes directed at reducing adverse birth outcomes.1

While the prevalence (and burden) of preterm birth is highest in the poorest countries, namely sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia, it also affects richer countries including those in the Americas and Europe. More country-specific …

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  • Funding Department of Industry and Science-Australian Research Council (FT120100812).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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