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Did smallpox cause stillbirths?: Maternal smallpox infection, vaccination, and stillbirths in Sweden, 1780–1839
London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom; Centre for Economic Policy Research, United Kingdom.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Demographic and Ageing Research (CEDAR).ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7439-002x
Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan.
2023 (English)In: Population Studies, ISSN 0032-4728, E-ISSN 1477-4747Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

While there is strong evidence that maternal smallpox infection can cause foetal loss, it is not clear whether smallpox infections were a demographically important cause of stillbirths historically. In this paper, we use parish-level data from the Swedish Tabellverket data set for 1780–1839 to test the effect of smallpox on stillbirths quantitatively, analysing periods before and after the introduction of vaccination in 1802. We find that smallpox infection was not a major cause of stillbirths before 1820, because most women contracted smallpox as children and were therefore not susceptible during pregnancy. We do find a small, statistically significant effect of smallpox on stillbirths from 1820 to 1839, when waning immunity from vaccination put a greater share of pregnant women at risk of contracting smallpox. However, the reduced prevalence of smallpox in this period limited its impact on stillbirths. Thus, smallpox was not an important driver of historical stillbirth trends.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2023.
Keywords [en]
foetal death, historical demography, smallpox, stillbirth, vaccination
National Category
History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-205342DOI: 10.1080/00324728.2023.2174266ISI: 000936415300001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85148497104OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-205342DiVA, id: diva2:1748421
Available from: 2023-04-03 Created: 2023-04-03 Last updated: 2023-04-03

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Edvinsson, Sören

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CiteExportLink to record
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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf