The relationship between mean birth weight and poverty using the Towsend deprivation score and the Super Profile classification system
Super Profiles have been used as alternative methods of characterising the deprivation of an area. Some reports suggest that Super Profiles are as accurate as established indices such as the Townsend score (TS). This was a test of this assertion. A total of 138 696 live born singleton births to Birmingham residents born between 1986 and 1996 (inclusive) were allocated to enumeration districts (EDs) by linkage from the postcode. We allocated the TS of the individual's ED. We allocated a Lifestyle and Target Market (TM) from Super Profiles by linkage to the ED. We examined the gradient between mean birth weight and the 10 Super Profile Lifestyles and compared this to the gradient between 10 Townsend groups and mean birth weight. We repeated this approach using the 40 TMs and 40 Townsend groups. We used both the median income and a census-derived deprivation measure to rank Lifestyles and TMs. The gradient between mean birth weight and area deprivation was linear for Townsend groups but not linear using either Lifestyles or TMs whichever method of ranking Lifestyles or TMs was used. Where Lifestyles or TMs were out of line with their neighbours, the TS of that group mostly explained this. As Super Profiles are generated using nationally representative data, applying the affluence ranking to small areas can lead to inaccuracies, as shown in this data. We conclude that Super Profiles are probably unsuitable as measures of deprivation of small areas.