Maternal and perinatal outcomes of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in Europe: a systematic review

Noor C. Gieles, Julia B. Tankink, Myrthe van Midde, Johannes Düker, Peggy van der Lans, Catherina M. Wessels, Kitty W.M. Bloemenkamp, Gouke Bonsel, Thomas van den Akker, Simone Goosen, Marcus J. Rijken, Joyce L. Browne

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Asylum seekers (AS) and undocumented migrants (UM) are at risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes due to adverse health determinants and compromised maternal healthcare access and service quality. Considering recent migratory patterns and the absence of a robust overview, a systematic review was conducted on maternal and perinatal outcomes in AS and UM in Europe. METHODS: Systematic literature searches were performed in MEDLINE and EMBASE (until 1 May 2017), complemented by a grey literature search (until 1 June 2017). Primary research articles reporting on any maternal or perinatal outcome, published between 2007 and 2017 in English/Dutch were eligible for inclusion. Review protocols were registered on Prospero: CRD42017062375 and CRD42017062477. Due to heterogeneity in study populations and outcomes, results were synthesized narratively. RESULTS: Of 4652 peer-reviewed articles and 145 grey literature sources screened, 11 were included from 4 European countries. Several studies reported adverse outcomes including higher maternal mortality (AS), severe acute maternal morbidity (AS), preterm birth (UM) and low birthweight (UM). Risk of bias was generally acceptable, although the limited number and quality of some studies preclude definite conclusions. CONCLUSION: Limited evidence is available on pregnancy outcomes in AS and UM in Europe. The adverse outcomes reported imply that removing barriers to high-quality maternal care should be a priority. More research focussing on migrant subpopulations, considering potential risk factors such as ethnicity and legal status, is needed to guide policy and optimize care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)714-723
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean journal of public health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Maternal and perinatal outcomes of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants in Europe: a systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this