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Shai Mulinari

Docent och Forskare

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Does Maternal Country of Birth Matter for Understanding Offspring’s Birthweight? A Multilevel Analysis of Individual Heterogeneity in Sweden

Författare

  • Shai Mulinari
  • Sol Pia Juarez
  • Philippe Wagner
  • Juan Merlo

Summary, in English

Background



Many public health and epidemiological studies have found differences between populations (e.g. maternal countries of birth) in average values of a health indicator (e.g. mean offspring birthweight). However, the approach based solely on population-level averages compromises our understanding of variability in individuals’ health around the averages. If this variability is high, the exclusive study of averages may give misleading information. This idea is relevant when investigating country of birth differences in health.

Methods and Results



To exemplify this concept, we use information from the Swedish Medical Birth Register (2002–2010) and apply multilevel regression analysis of birthweight, with babies (n = 811,329) at the first, mothers (n = 571,876) at the second, and maternal countries of birth (n = 109) at the third level. We disentangle offspring, maternal and maternal country of birth components of the total offspring heterogeneity in birthweight for babies born within the normal timespan (37–42 weeks). We found that of such birthweight variation about 50% was at the baby level, 47% at the maternal level and only 3% at the maternal countries of birth level.

Conclusion



In spite of seemingly large differences in average birthweight among maternal countries of birth (range 3290–3677g), knowledge of the maternal country of birth does not provide accurate information for ascertaining individual offspring birthweight because of the high inter-offspring heterogeneity around country averages. Our study exemplifies the need for a better understanding of individual health diversity for which group averages may provide insufficient and even misleading information. The analytical approach we outline is therefore relevant to investigations of country of birth (and ethnic) differences in health in general.

Avdelning/ar

  • Socialepidemiologi
  • Ortopedi, Lund
  • EpiHealth: Epidemiology for Health

Publiceringsår

2015

Språk

Engelska

Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie

PLoS ONE

Volym

10

Issue

5

Dokumenttyp

Artikel i tidskrift

Förlag

Public Library of Science

Ämne

  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health

Status

Published

Projekt

  • Swedish genes?
  • Multilevel analysis of individual heterogeneity

Forskningsgrupp

  • Social Epidemiology

ISBN/ISSN/Övrigt

  • ISSN: 1932-6203