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Sociodemographic and regional differences in neonatal and infant mortality in Switzerland: The Swiss National Cohort


Skrivankova, Veronika W; Schreck, Leonie D; Berlin, Claudia; Panczak, Radoslaw; Staub, Kaspar; Zwahlen, Marcel; Schulzke, Sven M; Egger, Matthias; Kuehni, Claudia E (2023). Sociodemographic and regional differences in neonatal and infant mortality in Switzerland: The Swiss National Cohort. medRxiv 23295765, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Abstract

SummaryBackgroundDespite a well-funded healthcare system with universal insurance coverage, Switzerland has one of the highest neonatal and infant mortality rates among high-income countries. Identifying avoidable risk factors targeted by evidence-based policies is a public health priority. We describe neonatal and infant mortality in Switzerland from 2011–2018 and explore associations with neonatal and pregnancy-related variables, parental sociodemographic information, regional factors, and socioeconomic position (SEP) using data from a long-term nation-wide cohort study.MethodsWe included 680,077 live births—representing 99.3% of all infants born in Switzerland between January 2011 and December 2018. We deterministically linked the national live birth register with the mortality register and with census and survey data to create a longitudinal dataset of neonatal and pregnancy-related variables; parental sociodemographic information, such as civil status, age, religion, education, nationality; regional factors, such as urbanity, language region; and the Swiss neighbourhood index of SEP (Swiss-SEP index). Information on maternal education was available for a random subset of 242,949 infants. We investigated associations with neonatal and infant mortality by fitting multivariable Poisson regression models with robust standard errors. Several sensitivity analyses assessed the robustness of our findings.ResultsOverall, neonatal mortality rates between 2011 and 2018 were 3.0 per 1000 live births, varying regionally from 3.2 in German-speaking to 2.4 in French-speaking and 2.1 in Italian-speaking Switzerland. For infant mortality, respective rates were 3.7 per 1000 live births overall, varying from 3.9 to 3.3 and 2.9. Adjusting for sex, maternal age, multiple birth and birth rank, neonatal mortality remained significantly associated with language region [rate ratio (RR) 0.72, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.64–0.80 for French-speaking and RR 0.66, 95% CI: 0.51–0.87 for Italian-speaking region], with marital status (RR 1.55, 95% CI: 1.40–1.71 for unmarried), nationality (RR 1.40, 95% CI: 1.21–1.62 for non-European Economic Area vs. Swiss), and the Swiss-SEP index (RR 1.17, 95% CI: 1.00–1.36 for lowest vs. highest SEP quintile). In the subset, we showed a possible association of neonatal mortality with maternal education (RR 1.24, 95% CI: 0.95–1.61 for compulsory vs tertiary education).ConclusionWe provide detailed evidence about the social patterning of neonatal and infant mortality in Switzerland and reveal important regional differences with about 30% lower risks in French-and Italian-speaking compared with German-speaking regions. Underlying causes for such regional differences, such as cultural, lifestyle, or healthcare-related factors, warrant further exploration to inform and provide an evidence base for public health policies.

Abstract

SummaryBackgroundDespite a well-funded healthcare system with universal insurance coverage, Switzerland has one of the highest neonatal and infant mortality rates among high-income countries. Identifying avoidable risk factors targeted by evidence-based policies is a public health priority. We describe neonatal and infant mortality in Switzerland from 2011–2018 and explore associations with neonatal and pregnancy-related variables, parental sociodemographic information, regional factors, and socioeconomic position (SEP) using data from a long-term nation-wide cohort study.MethodsWe included 680,077 live births—representing 99.3% of all infants born in Switzerland between January 2011 and December 2018. We deterministically linked the national live birth register with the mortality register and with census and survey data to create a longitudinal dataset of neonatal and pregnancy-related variables; parental sociodemographic information, such as civil status, age, religion, education, nationality; regional factors, such as urbanity, language region; and the Swiss neighbourhood index of SEP (Swiss-SEP index). Information on maternal education was available for a random subset of 242,949 infants. We investigated associations with neonatal and infant mortality by fitting multivariable Poisson regression models with robust standard errors. Several sensitivity analyses assessed the robustness of our findings.ResultsOverall, neonatal mortality rates between 2011 and 2018 were 3.0 per 1000 live births, varying regionally from 3.2 in German-speaking to 2.4 in French-speaking and 2.1 in Italian-speaking Switzerland. For infant mortality, respective rates were 3.7 per 1000 live births overall, varying from 3.9 to 3.3 and 2.9. Adjusting for sex, maternal age, multiple birth and birth rank, neonatal mortality remained significantly associated with language region [rate ratio (RR) 0.72, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.64–0.80 for French-speaking and RR 0.66, 95% CI: 0.51–0.87 for Italian-speaking region], with marital status (RR 1.55, 95% CI: 1.40–1.71 for unmarried), nationality (RR 1.40, 95% CI: 1.21–1.62 for non-European Economic Area vs. Swiss), and the Swiss-SEP index (RR 1.17, 95% CI: 1.00–1.36 for lowest vs. highest SEP quintile). In the subset, we showed a possible association of neonatal mortality with maternal education (RR 1.24, 95% CI: 0.95–1.61 for compulsory vs tertiary education).ConclusionWe provide detailed evidence about the social patterning of neonatal and infant mortality in Switzerland and reveal important regional differences with about 30% lower risks in French-and Italian-speaking compared with German-speaking regions. Underlying causes for such regional differences, such as cultural, lifestyle, or healthcare-related factors, warrant further exploration to inform and provide an evidence base for public health policies.

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Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:19 September 2023
Deposited On:10 Oct 2023 08:10
Last Modified:20 Jun 2024 10:33
Series Name:medRxiv
Number of Pages:38
ISSN:0959-535X
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.09.19.23295765
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)