2016 Volume 26 Issue 2 Pages 76-83
Background: The effect of natural disasters on secondary sex ratio (SSR) and perinatal outcomes has been suggested. This study aimed to examine effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake on perinatal outcomes using vital statistics of Japan.
Methods: Birth registration data from vital statistics of Japan between March 2010 and March 2012 were used. Pregnant women who experienced the earthquake were categorized according to their gestational period as of March 11, 2011, as follows: gestational weeks 4–11, 12–19, 20–27, and 28–36 (2011 group). Similarly, pregnant women who did not experience the earthquake were categorized according to their gestational period as of March 11, 2010 and used as controls (2010 group). We also categorized prefectures as “extremely affected”, “moderately affected”, and “slightly or unaffected” regions. SSR, birth weight, and gestational period were compared between both groups.
Results: The number of singleton births was 688 479 in the 2010 group and 679 131 in the 2011 group. In the extremely affected region, the SSR among women at 4–11 weeks of gestation was significantly lower in the 2011 group compared with the 2010 group (49.8% vs 52.1%, P = 0.009). In the extremely affected region, children born to women who experienced the earthquake at 28–36 weeks of gestation had significantly lower birth weights.
Conclusions: The SSR declined among women who experienced the earthquake during early pregnancy, particularly in the extremely affected region. However, no apparent negative effect of the earthquake on perinatal outcomes was observed, although birth weight of infants who were born to women who experienced the earthquake at 28–36 weeks of gestation were lower.