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BACKGROUND: Early detection of vulnerability during or before pregnancy can contribute to optimizing the first 1000 days, a crucial period for children's development and health. We aimed to identify classes of vulnerability among pregnant women in the Netherlands using pre-pregnancy data on a wide range of social risk and protective factors, and validate these classes against the risk of adverse outcomes. METHODS: We conducted a latent class analysis based on 42 variables derived from nationwide observational data sources and self-reported data. Variables included individual, socioeconomic, lifestyle, psychosocial and household characteristics, self-reported health, healthcare utilization, life-events and living conditions. We compared classes in relation to adverse outcomes using logistic regression analyses. RESULTS: In the study population of 4172 women, we identified five latent classes. The largest 'healthy and socioeconomically stable'-class [n = 2040 (48.9%)] mostly shared protective factors, such as paid work and positively perceived health. The classes 'high care utilization' [n = 485 (11.6%)], 'socioeconomic vulnerability' [n = 395 (9.5%)] and 'psychosocial vulnerability' [n = 1005 (24.0%)] were characterized by risk factors limited to one specific domain and protective factors in others. Women classified into the 'multidimensional vulnerability'-class [n = 250 (6.0%)] shared multiple risk factors in different domains (psychosocial, medical and socioeconomic risk factors). Multidimensional vulnerability was associated with adverse outcomes, such as premature birth and caesarean section. CONCLUSIONS: Co-existence of multiple risk factors in various domains is associated with adverse outcomes for mother and child. Early detection of vulnerability and strategies to improve parental health and well-being might benefit from focussing on different domains and combining medical and social care and support.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Public Health

Publication Date