Educational Attainment and Pregnancy Outcomes: A Danish Register-Based Study of the Influence of Childhood Social Disadvantage on Later Socioeconomic Disparities in Induced Abortion, Spontaneous Abortion, Stillbirth and Preterm Delivery

  • Emilie Rune HegelundEmail author
  • Gry Juul Poulsen
  • Laust Hvas Mortensen


Objectives Socioeconomic disparities in pregnancy outcomes have been found across times and places, but there is a lack of studies investigating the underlying causes. The present study investigated the influence of child protective services in the pregnant woman’s family of origin as a proxy of childhood social disadvantage. Methods The study population comprised all registered pregnancies in Denmark during the period from 2000 to 2009 that resulted in an induced abortion, spontaneous abortion, stillbirth or live birth (N = 786,054). Linear regression was used to analyze the associations between educational attainment and pregnancy outcomes in models with and without adjustment for age, parental educational attainment and child protective services in the family of origin. Further, it was tested whether child protective services in the pregnant woman’s family of origin modified the associations between educational attainment and pregnancy outcomes. Results Women with low educational attainment had a higher risk of induced abortion, stillbirth and preterm delivery and a lower risk of spontaneous abortion. These associations were to some extent explained by child protective services in the family of origin. Further, child protective services in the pregnant woman’s family of origin modified the association between educational attainment and risk of preterm delivery. Thus, women with high educational attainment were not found to differ in risk of preterm delivery according to child protective services in the family of origin Conclusions for Practice Information on childhood social disadvantage may enrich our understanding of the socioeconomic disparities in pregnancy outcomes


Educational attainment Childhood social disadvantage Abortion Stillbirth Preterm delivery 



The authors want to thank Jenny Torssander for comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 25 KB)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public HealthUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen KDenmark

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