Research: Migrant women face greater health risks during pregnancy, childbirth

A Tampere University dissertation has found that some groups of migrant-background women have higher risks of health complications during pregnancy and delivery.

Women with Kurdish, Somali, South and East Asian, South American and Caribbean backgrounds had riskier pregnancies and births.

Research by doctoral health sciences candidate Kalpana Bastola found that while Russian-background women tended to have a lower body mass index (BMI) than women in the general population before pregnancy, women with Somali and Kurdish backgrounds tended to have a higher BMI than women in the general population.
Tuleva äiti tutkiin äitiyspakkauksen sisältöä.
Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle
She found that Kurdish-background women had higher odds of pregnancy-related diabetes, while Somali-background women had a greater risk of childbirth-related complications.
"The identified high risk-groups may need additional counselling on weight management and special attention in maternal and newborn care," Bastola said in a statement.
Women from sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and East Asia had a higher risk of preterm birth, emergency caesarian section deliveries and low birthweight babies, according to the research. Meanwhile women with backgrounds from South America or the Caribbean had a greater risk of both elective and emergency caesarian deliveries.

Risks lower among Russia-background women

Women from Russia or the former Soviet Union had a generally lower risk of complications arising during pregnancy and childbirth as well as lower risk of neo-natal health problems, Bastola concluded.
"More research is needed to better understand the reasons and mechanisms behind these differences and to develop interventions for improving the health of the higher-risk groups," she said.
Titled "Health of pregnant migrant women and their newborns in Finland", Bastola's dissertation will be defended on Friday.
The health researcher analysed single births recorded in the Finnish Medical Birth Register between 2004 and 2014 as well as data from Statistics Finland and the Care Register for Health Care. She examined the records of 318 Russian, 583 Somali, 373 Kurdish and 243 women from the general population in Finland.

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