Maternal ethnicity and pre-eclampsia in New York City, 1995–2003


Professor David A. Savitz, Department of Epidemiology, Box G-S-i2i-2, Brown University, Providence, RI, 02912, USA. E-mail:


Gong J, Savitz DA, Stein CR, Engel SM. Maternal ethnicity and pre-eclampsia in New York City, 1995–2003. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 2012; 26: 45–52.

Studies on ethnic differences in the risk of pre-eclampsia are limited. We linked birth records for 902 460 singleton births for the period 1995–2003 in New York City with hospital discharge data to evaluate the association between ethnicity and the risk of pre-eclampsia and compare risks between US-born and foreign-born women. Logistic regression models adjusted for maternal age, maternal education, parity, self-reported pre-pregnancy maternal weight, smoking during pregnancy and year of delivery were used to compare each ethnic group with non-Hispanic White women. The prevalence of pre-eclampsia in this study population was 3.2%. Among the major ethnic groups considered in our study, East Asian women had the lowest risk of pre-eclampsia (1.4%) and Mexican women had the highest risk (5.0%). Compared with non-Hispanic White women, there was a slightly decreased risk for East Asian women (adjusted OR = 0.8, [95% CI 0.7, 0.8]), similar risk for North African women (adjusted OR = 1.1, [95% CI 0.9, 1.3]), and increased risk for all other major ethnic groups (adjusted ORs: 1.3, 2.9), with the highest risk for Mexican women (adjusted OR = 2.9, [95% CI 2.7, 3.1]). No difference in risks was observed for US- vs. foreign-born women with the exception that foreign-born South-East Asian and Pacific Islanders had an increased risk of pre-eclampsia (adjusted OR = 1.8, [95% CI 1.0, 3.1]) relative to those born in the US. We concluded that there was ethnic heterogeneity in the development of pre-eclampsia among women in New York City and that Asian subgroups should be examined separately in future studies on ethnicity. Our results should contribute to screening for pre-eclampsia taking ethnic variation into account, and may help to suggest leads for the study of the aetiology of the condition.