Maternal and birth cohort studies in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Rami H. Al-Rifai, Nasloon Ali, Esther T. Barigye, Amal H.I. Al Haddad, Fatima Al-Maskari, Tom Loney, Luai A. Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: We systematically reviewed and chronicled exposures and outcomes measured in the maternal and birth cohort studies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and quantitatively summarized the weighted effect estimates between maternal obesity and (1) cesarean section (CS) and (2) fetal macrosomia. Methods: We searched MEDLINE-PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, Scopus, and Web of Science electronic databases up to 30 June 2019. We considered all maternal and birth cohort studies conducted in the six GCC countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates (UAE)). We categorized cohort studies on the basis of the exposure(s) (anthropometric, environmental, medical, maternal/reproductive, perinatal, or socioeconomic) and outcome(s) (maternal or birth) being measured. Adjusted weighted effect estimates, in the form of relative risks, between maternal obesity and CS and fetal macrosomia were generated using a random-effects model. Results: Of 3502 citations, 81 published cohort studies were included. One cohort study was in Bahrain, eight in Kuwait, seven in Qatar, six in Oman, 52 in Saudi Arabia, and seven in the UAE. Majority of the exposures studied were maternal/reproductive (65.2%) or medical (39.5%). Birth and maternal outcomes were reported in 82.7% and in 74.1% of the cohort studies, respectively. In Saudi Arabia, babies born to obese women were at a higher risk of macrosomia (adjusted relative risk (aRR), 1.15; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.10-1.20; I 2 = 50%) or cesarean section (aRR, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.15-1.26; I 2 = 62.0%). Several cohort studies were only descriptive without reporting the magnitude of the effect estimate between the assessed exposures and outcomes. Conclusions: Cohort studies in the GCC have predominantly focused on reproductive and medical exposures. Obese pregnant women are at an increased risk of undergoing CS delivery or macrosomic births. Longer-term studies that explore a wider range of environmental and biological exposures and outcomes relevant to the GCC region are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14
JournalSystematic reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 16 2020


  • Cohort studies
  • Infant health
  • Maternal exposure
  • Maternal health
  • Middle East
  • Prenatal exposure delayed effects
  • Review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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