Introduction This protocol outlines aims to test the wider impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on pregnancy and birth outcomes and inequalities in Scotland.<br/><br/>Method and analysis We will analyse Scottish linked administrative data for pregnancies and births before (March 2010 to March 2020) and during (April 2020 to October 2020) the pandemic. The Community Health Index database will be used to link the National Records of Scotland Births and the Scottish Morbidity Record 02. The data will include about 500 000 mother–child pairs. We will investigate population-level changes in maternal behaviour (smoking at antenatal care booking, infant feeding on discharge), pregnancy and birth outcomes (birth weight, preterm birth, Apgar score, stillbirth, neonatal death, pre-eclampsia) and service use (mode of delivery, mode of anaesthesia, neonatal unit admission) during the COVID-19 pandemic using two analytical approaches. First, we will estimate interrupted times series regression models to describe changes in outcomes comparing prepandemic with pandemic periods. Second, we will analyse the effect of COVID-19 mitigation measures on our outcomes in more detail by creating cumulative exposure variables for each mother–child pair using the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker. Thus, estimating a potential dose–response relationship between exposure to mitigation measures and our outcomes of interest as well as assessing if timing of exposure during pregnancy matters. Finally, we will assess inequalities in the effect of cumulative exposure to lockdown measures on outcomes using several axes of inequality: ethnicity/mother’s country of birth, area deprivation (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation), urban-rural classification of residence, number of previous children, maternal social position (National Statistics Socioeconomic Classification) and parental relationship status.<br/><br/>Ethics and dissemination NHS Scotland Public Benefit and Privacy Panel for Health and Social Care scrutinised and approved the use of these data (1920-0097). Results of this study will be disseminated to the research community, practitioners, policy makers and the wider public.


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Oberndorfer, M., Henery, P., Dundas, R., Leyland, A., Paranjothy, S., Stock, S., Wood, R., Nelson, S., Kearns, R. & Pearce, A. 2023, 'Study protocol: examining the impacts of COVID-19 mitigation measures on pregnancy and birth outcomes in Scotland: a linked administrative data study', BMJ Open, 13, article no: e066293. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2022-066293

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Last updated: 23 February 2023
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