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Health of neonates born in the maternity hospital in Bern, Switzerland, 1880–1900 and 1914–1922


Salvisberg, Vivienne; Le Vu, Mathilde; Floris, Joël; Matthes, Katarina L; Staub, Kaspar (2023). Health of neonates born in the maternity hospital in Bern, Switzerland, 1880–1900 and 1914–1922. PLoS ONE, 18(8):e0289157.

Abstract

The identification of factors impeding normal fetal development and growth is crucial for improving neonatal health. Historical studies are relevant because they show which parameters have influenced neonatal health in the past in order to better understand the present. We studied temporal changes of neonatal health outcomes (birth weight, gestational age, stillbirth rate) and the influence of different cofactors in two time periods. Moreover, we investigated particularly neonatal health in the wake of the 1918/19 influenza pandemic. Data were transcribed from the Bern Maternity Hospital and consists of two time periods: A) The years 1880, 1885, 1890, 1895 and 1900 (N = 1530, births’ coverage 20%); B) The years 1914–1922 (N = 6924, births’ coverage 40–50%). Linear regression models were used to estimate the effect of birth year on birth weight, and logistic regression models to estimate the effect of birth year and of the exposure to the pandemic on premature birth, stillborn and low birth weight (LBW). Mean birth weight increased only minimally between the two datasets; whereas, in the years 1914–1922, the preterm birth and stillbirth rates were markedly reduced compared with the years 1880–1900. Sex, parity, gestational age and maternal age were significantly associated with birth weight in both time periods. The probability of LBW was significantly increased in 1918 (OR 1.49 (95% CI 1.00–2.23)) and in 1919 (OR 1.55 (95% CI 1.02–2.36)) compared to 1914. Mothers who were heavily exposed to the influenza pandemic during pregnancy had a higher risk of stillbirth (OR 2.27 (95% CI 1.32–3.9)). This study demonstrated that factors influencing neonatal health are multifactorial but similar in both time periods. Moreover, the exposure to the 1918/19 pandemic was less associated with LBW and more associated with an increased risk of stillbirth. If this trend is confirmed by further studies, it could indicate some consistency across pandemics, as similar patterns have recently been shown for COVID-19.

Abstract

The identification of factors impeding normal fetal development and growth is crucial for improving neonatal health. Historical studies are relevant because they show which parameters have influenced neonatal health in the past in order to better understand the present. We studied temporal changes of neonatal health outcomes (birth weight, gestational age, stillbirth rate) and the influence of different cofactors in two time periods. Moreover, we investigated particularly neonatal health in the wake of the 1918/19 influenza pandemic. Data were transcribed from the Bern Maternity Hospital and consists of two time periods: A) The years 1880, 1885, 1890, 1895 and 1900 (N = 1530, births’ coverage 20%); B) The years 1914–1922 (N = 6924, births’ coverage 40–50%). Linear regression models were used to estimate the effect of birth year on birth weight, and logistic regression models to estimate the effect of birth year and of the exposure to the pandemic on premature birth, stillborn and low birth weight (LBW). Mean birth weight increased only minimally between the two datasets; whereas, in the years 1914–1922, the preterm birth and stillbirth rates were markedly reduced compared with the years 1880–1900. Sex, parity, gestational age and maternal age were significantly associated with birth weight in both time periods. The probability of LBW was significantly increased in 1918 (OR 1.49 (95% CI 1.00–2.23)) and in 1919 (OR 1.55 (95% CI 1.02–2.36)) compared to 1914. Mothers who were heavily exposed to the influenza pandemic during pregnancy had a higher risk of stillbirth (OR 2.27 (95% CI 1.32–3.9)). This study demonstrated that factors influencing neonatal health are multifactorial but similar in both time periods. Moreover, the exposure to the 1918/19 pandemic was less associated with LBW and more associated with an increased risk of stillbirth. If this trend is confirmed by further studies, it could indicate some consistency across pandemics, as similar patterns have recently been shown for COVID-19.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of History
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
900 History
Uncontrolled Keywords:Multidisciplinary
Language:English
Date:16 August 2023
Deposited On:20 Aug 2023 09:04
Last Modified:29 Jun 2024 01:38
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0289157
PubMed ID:37585406
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID156683
  • : Project TitleBirth weight of newborns as a mirror of womenâ��s standard of living: Evidence from birth records in the city of Basle 1888-1939
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID197305
  • : Project TitleBirth weights and other anthropometrics of neonates as a mirror of (maternal) living standards in Lausanne, 1905-1925
  • : FunderMäxi-Stiftung
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)