Immigrant ancestry and birthweight across two generations born in Sweden: an intergenerational cohort study

Aradhya, S., Katikireddi, S. V. and Juárez, S. P. (2022) Immigrant ancestry and birthweight across two generations born in Sweden: an intergenerational cohort study. BMJ Global Health, 7(4), e007341. (doi: 10.1136/bmjgh-2021-007341) (PMID:35470131) (PMCID:PMC9058695)

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Introduction: Differences in birthweight are often seen between migrants and natives. However, whether migrant-native birthweight inequalities widen, narrow or remain persistent across generations when comparing the descendants of immigrants and natives remains understudied. We examined inequalities in birthweight of mothers (G2) and daughters (G3) of foreign-born grandmothers (G1) compared with those of Swedish-born grandmothers. Methods: We used population registers with multigenerational linkages to identify 314 415 daughters born in Sweden during the period 1989–2012 (G3), linked to 246 642 mothers (G2) born in Sweden during 1973–1996, and to their grandmothers (G1) who were Swedish or foreign-born. We classified migrants into non-western, Eastern European, the rest of Nordic and Western. We used multivariable methods to examine mean birthweight and low birthweight (<2500 g; LBW). Results: Birthweight between individuals with Swedish background (G1) and non-western groups increased from -80 g to -147 g between G2 (mothers) and G3 (daughters), respectively. Furthermore, the odds of LBW increased among the G3 non-western immigrants compared with those with Swedish grandmothers (OR: 1.38, 95% CI 1.12 to 1.69). Birthweight increased in both descendants of Swedes and non-western immigrants, but less so in the latter (83 g vs 16 g). Conclusion: We observed an increase in birthweight inequalities across generations between descendants of non-western immigrants and descendants of Swedes. This finding is puzzling considering Sweden has been lauded for its humanitarian approach to migration, for being one of the most egalitarian countries in the world and providing universal access to healthcare and education.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:SA has been supported by SIMSAM Lund Research Program (VR number 2013-32038-99687-157), the Swedish Research Council (VR number 2020-01285), and The Baltic Sea Foundation (S1-20-0052). SJ has been supported by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, (FORTE number 2016-07128, number 2021-00271) and the Swedish Research Council (VR number 2018-01825). SVK acknowledges funding from a NRS Senior Clinical Fellowship (SCAF/15/02), the Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00022/2) and the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office (SPHSU17).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Katikireddi, Professor Vittal
Authors: Aradhya, S., Katikireddi, S. V., and Juárez, S. P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:BMJ Global Health
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN (Online):2059-7908
Published Online:25 April 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in BMJ Global Health 7(4):e007341
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
172690Understanding the impacts of welfare policy on health: A novel data linkage studySrinivasa KatikireddiOffice of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSO)SCAF/15/02SHW - Public Health
3048230021Inequalities in healthAlastair LeylandMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_00022/2HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
3048230071Inequalities in healthAlastair LeylandOffice of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSO)SPHSU17HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit