Changes in Socioeconomic Inequality of Low Birth Weight and Macrosomia in Shaanxi Province of Northwest China, 2010–2013: A Cross-sectional Study

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Socioeconomic disparities in birth weights (BWs) are associated with lifelong differences in health and productivity. Understanding socioeconomic disparities in BW is presently of concern to develop public health interventions that promote a good start in life in Northwest China. In the study, our objective is to investigate the socioeconomic disparities in low and high BW from 2010 to 2013 in this region.

Those single live births were recruited using a stratified multistage sampling method in Shaanxi province from August to December 2013. Data were collected with a structured questionnaire and a review of birth certificates. Socioeconomic status (SES) was stratified based on the calculated household wealth index. Prevalence differences (PDs) and concentration indices (CIs) were used to depict the SES inequality of low BW (LBW) and macrosomia.

Information for 28722 single live births born were obtained in Shaanxi province. From 2010 to 2013, the overall rates of LBW decreased, and the difference in LBW across differing SES groups decreased by 0.7% (boys, 0.4%; girls, 0.8%). From 2010 to 2013, the overall rates of macrosomia increased by 14.3% (boys, 17.5%; girls, 7.8%), whereas the PDs in macrosomia across various SES groups remained unchanged. From 2010 to 2013, concentration indices for SES inequalities in LBW and macrosomia confirmed the results shown by differences in prevalence. Compared with mothers of high SES, those in low SES group were significantly older, less educated, engaged in farming with less availabile healthcare, and engaged in unhealthy lifestyles (eg, exposure to secondhand smoke) during pregnancy, regardless of the baby's sex.

From 2010 to 2013, in Shaanxi province, the negative association between socioeconomic status and LBW weakened. Rates of macrosomia were higher in those of high SES, but the SES disparities varied insignificantly over the same time. Our findings may provide valuable insights to direct healthcare policies for pregnant women to reduce inequalities in health, quality of life, and productivity for their children as they age into adulthood.

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