The Influence of Socioeconomic Status on Adverse Birth Outcomes

Emily E. Campbell, MScFN RD, and Jamie A. Seabrook, PhD

Adverse birth outcomes are associated with infant morbidity and mortality and with an increased likelihood of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease in adulthood. Socioeconomic status (SES) is one of the most reliable predictors of health disparities, and although the association between SES and birth outcomes has been studied previously, this is, to our knowledge, the first review that encompasses several dimensions of SES and their influence on birth outcomes in a single article. Our review indicates that education, income, neighbourhood SES, and occupation all
play a role at influencing birth outcomes. We contend that, because lifestyle approaches to reducing health disparities (e.g., better diet, more exercise) are in turn related to SES, public discourse and policy interventions would be better suited to focusing attention on more fundamental causes of adverse birth outcomes—particularly low SES—if we are to see major improvements in the health of our citizens.

socio-economic status, social class, premature birth, infant low birth
weight, small for gestational age

This article has been peer reviewed.


Download article