European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 26, Issue 7, pp 527–536 | Cite as

Ethnic variations in mortality in pre-school children in Denmark, 1973–2004

  • Grete Skøtt Pedersen
  • Laust Hvas Mortensen
  • Anne-Marie Nybo Andersen


The objective of the study was to describe ethnic differences in under-five-years mortality in Denmark according to maternal country of origin. We conducted a large registry-linkage study of all singleton live-born children from mothers born in Denmark and from the ten largest migrant groups (n = 1,841,450). Study outcomes were death before the age of 5 years from all causes combined and the most frequent death causes. Results showed that children of mothers of Turkish, Pakistani, Somali and Iraqi origin had an elevated risk of dying before the age of five compared to offspring of mothers born in Denmark, with hazards ratios and 95% confidence intervals of 1.48 (1.31–1.67), 1.97 (1.68–2.32), 1.70 (1.29–2.25), and 1.92 (1.41–2.62), respectively. Ethnic differences were also observed in the underlying causes of death. Children of mothers born in Former Yugoslavia, Lebanon, Norway, Sweden, Iran, and Afghanistan did not differ in under-five-years mortality from ethnic Danish children. Adjustments for household income did not attenuate the risk estimates. In conclusion, we found excess child mortality in some migrant groups, but not in all. The differences could not be explained by socioeconomic status.


Child health Disparity Ethnic groups Mortality 



Confidence interval


Hazard ratio


Central nervous system


International Classification of Diseases


Under-five-years mortality


World Health Organization


Conflict of interest

There are no conflicts of interest to declare in relation to this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Grete Skøtt Pedersen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Laust Hvas Mortensen
    • 3
  • Anne-Marie Nybo Andersen
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology, Institute of Public HealthUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark
  2. 2.Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender BiologyBrigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Section of Social Medicine, Department of Public HealthUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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