Map of Simcoe Muskoka

Pregnancy and Before

Social Determinants

Social Determinants of Health for Women of Reproductive Age

A woman’s life circumstances play a major role in determining the health of her baby. Known as "social determinants of health" these circumstances include factors such as income and education level, social supports, physical environment and working conditions. For example, pregnant women with low income and education and few social supports may have poorer birth outcomes than pregnant women with higher incomes, education levels and strong social supports. 


Women who are better educated are more likely to engage in healthful behaviours such as supplementing prenatally with folic acid, seeking early prenatal care, attending prenatal education and exclusively breastfeeding for six months. As well, the rates of preterm birth, small for gestational age, stillbirth, infant mortality, smoking, exposure to second-hand smoke and alcohol consumption during pregnancy all decrease as the level of the mother’s education increases.  According to the 2011 National Household Survey, education levels for women ages 20-64 are lower in Simcoe Muskoka than Ontario.


Income and Employment:

Women are more likely than men in Simcoe Muskoka to be unemployed and earn less money.  People with higher incomes generally live longer, healthier lives than people with lower incomes. 

In addition, more women raise their children without the support of a partner. For instance, in Simcoe Muskoka in 2011, 78% of lone-parent families in Simcoe Muskoka were led by a female parent while 22% of lone-parent families were male led.  

Social Support

Whether planning to become a parent or expecting a new baby, a strong social network is essential for all mothers to be, especially if they are on their own. A network of friends and family members can provide both emotional and material support. According to the 2011 Census, there are 23,260 lone-parent families in Simcoe Muskoka. This represents 27% of all families with children. In Ontario, 27% of all families with children are lone-parent. In both Simcoe Muskoka and Ontario, approximately 80% of all lone-parent families are headed by women and 20% by men.