Go to content

Maternal origin and risk of neonatal and maternal ICU admission


Objectives — To evaluate maternal world region of birth, as well as maternal country of origin, and the associated risk of admission of 1) a mother to a maternal ICU, 2) her infant to a neonatal ICU, or 3) both concurrently to an ICU.

Design — Retrospective population-based cohort study.

Setting — Entire province of Ontario, Canada, from 2003 to 2012.

Patients — All singleton maternal-child pairs who delivered in any Ontario hospital.

Measurements and Main Results — We explored how maternal world region of birth, and specifically, maternal country of birth for the top 25 countries, was associated with the outcome of 1) neonatal ICU, 2) maternal ICU, and 3) both mother and newborn concurrently admitted to ICU. Relative risks were adjusted for maternal age, parity, income quintile, chronic hypertension, diabetes mellitus, obesity, dyslipidemia, drug dependence or tobacco use, and renal disease. Compared with infants of Canadian-born mothers (110.7/1,000), the rate of neonatal ICU admission was higher in immigrants from South Asia (155.2/1,000), Africa (140.4/1,000), and the Caribbean (167.3/1,000; adjusted relative risk, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.36-1.46). For maternal ICU, the adjusted relative risk was 1.79 (95% CI, 1.43-2.24) for women from Africa and 2.21 (95% CI, 1.78-2.75) for women from the Caribbean. Specifically, mothers from Ghana (adjusted relative risk, 2.71; 95% CI, 1.75-4.21) and Jamaica (adjusted relative risk, 2.74; 95% CI, 2.12-3.53) were at highest risk of maternal ICU admission. The risk of both mother and newborn concurrently admitted to ICU was even more pronounced for Ghana and Jamaica.

Conclusions — Women from Africa and the Caribbean and, in particular, Ghana and Jamaica, are at higher risk of admission to ICU around the time of delivery, as are their newborns.



Medcalf KE, Park AL, Vermeulen MJ, Ray JG. Crit Care Med. 2016; 44(7):1314-26. Epub 2016 Mar 14.

Contributing ICES Scientists

Research Programs

Associated Sites