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Postpartum self-inflicted injury, suicide, assault and homicide in relation to immigrant status in Ontario: a retrospective population-based cohort study

Vigod SN, Arora S, Urquia ML, Dennis CL, Fung K, Grigoriadis S, Ray JG. CMAJ Open. 2019; 7(2):E227-35. Epub 2019 Apr 12. DOI: 10.9778/cmajo.20180178.


Background — Intentional injury, including suicide and assault, is a leading cause of maternal morbidity and mortality. We aimed to determine whether immigrant and nonimmigrant women differ in their 1-year risk of intentional injury after birth.

Methods — This population-based retrospective cohort study used administrative data from Ontario from 2002 to 2012. Risk of self-inflicted injury (self-harm or suicide), and injury inflicted by others (assault or homicide), were each analyzed within 1 year after delivery of a live-born infant for immigrant and nonimmigrant mothers. Relative risks (RRs) were adjusted for maternal age, parity, income, resource utilization and psychiatric history.

Results — The study included 327 279 immigrant and 942 502 nonimmigrant mothers. Risk of self-inflicted injury was similar among immigrants and nonimmigrants (adjusted RR 0.91, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.78–1.04), with no variation by duration of residence or refugee status. Immigrants were at lower risk than nonimmigrants for injury inflicted by others (adjusted RR 0.57, 95% CI 0.51–0.64); that risk was higher among refugees than among nonrefugee immigrants (adjusted RR 1.79, 95% CI 1.33–2.41), and it was higher among long-term (adjusted RR 2.27, 95% CI 1.76–2.91) and medium-term (adjusted RR 1.58, 95% CI 1.19–2.11) immigrants than among recent immigrants. Variability by country of origin was observed for both injury types.

Interpretation — Immigrant mothers have a reported risk for self-inflicted injury after birth similar to that of their Canadian-born counterparts. The extent to which selective underreporting of intentional injury in immigrant women might explain our findings is a key consideration for future research.

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