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Investigating differences in the incidence of near-miss maternal morbidity between women from different age, socioeconomic and ethnic groups

Principal investigator
Marian Knight (NPEU)
Anthea Lindquist (NPEU Student), Peter Brocklehurst (NPEU), Jenny Kurinczuk (NPEU)
Severe maternal morbidity and mortality, Socioeconomic and ethnic inequalities
National Institute for Health Research
Start year
End year
NPEU Contact
Marian Knight


The characteristics of women giving birth are changing, such that women are, on average, older, more likely to have been born outside the UK and more likely to suffer from pre-existing medical conditions than in the past. In addition, the impact of technologies such as in vitro fertilisation with ovum donation may contribute to an increasing incidence of pregnancies in women outside of the normal reproductive age. Addressing inequalities in health is an important aspect of public health policy in the UK. Identifying and describing such inequalities is an important first step in developing strategies to address them. A recent analysis of rates of selected near-miss morbidities identified through UKOSS has shown important inequalities in the occurrence of these disorders in ethnic minority women. However, this study, because of its relatively small size, was not able to investigate in depth potential causes for the observed differences between individual minority groups. Recent work has also suggested poorer outcomes of pregnancy in older women and an overrepresentation of socially disadvantaged women among mothers who died. Infant mortality is known to be much higher among routine and manual socioeconomic groups but social inequalities in near-miss maternal morbidity have not been investigated on a national basis in the UK.

This project investigated inequalities in maternal morbidity in three specific groups: the older mother, women from routine and manual socioeconomic groups and ethnic minority women.


Journal Articles