The Relationship Between Maternal Education and Child Health Outcomes in Urban Australian Children in the First 12 Months of Life
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Objectives: To describe the relationship between maternal education and child health outcomes at 12 months of age in a cohort of children in urban Australia, and to determine whether this relationship could be explained by the intermediate factors of maternal health behaviour and the social environmental context. Methods: Data were derived from The Environments for Health Living Griffith Birth Cohort Study. Women attending their third trimester antenatal appointment at one of three public hospitals were recruited between 2006 and 2010 and invited to complete a 48-item, baseline self-administered questionnaire. Twelve months following the birth of their baby, a follow-up questionnaire consisting of 63 items was distributed. Results: Women for whom complete follow-up data were not available were different from women who did complete follow-up data. The children of women with follow-up data—whom at the time of their pregnancy had not completed school or whose highest level of education was secondary school or a trade—had respectively a 59 and 57 % increased chance of having had a respiratory/infectious disease or injury in the first year of life (according to parent proxy-reports), compared to children of women with a tertiary education. When maternal behavioural and social environmental factors during pregnancy were included in the model (n=1914), the effect of secondary education was still evident but with a reduced odds ratio of 1.35 (95 % CI 1.07–1.72) and 1.19 (95 % CI 0.87–1.64), respectively. The effect of not having completed school was no longer significant. Conclusions: Results indicate that the relationship between maternal education and child outcomes may be mediated by maternal social environmental and behavioural factors. Results are likely an underestimation of the effect size, given the under representation in our cohort of participants with maternal characteristics associated with elevated risk of infant morbidity.
Maternal and Child Health Journal
Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified