Examining a Paradox: The Differential Effect of Years Lived in the United States on Birth Outcomes for Latina Women

Monday, July 14, 2014: 11:00 AM
Room: F205
Oral Presentation
Stephanie AYERS , Southwest Interdisiplinary Research Center, Arizona State University, AZ
Shikira N. SUELL , Arizona State University, AZ
The unique stressors often faced by Mexican women living in the US, particularly for immigrant women, through limited financial resources, cultural beliefs regarding health and illness, lack of social support, and inadequate English language mastery, have been associated with poorer birth outcomes.  Drawing from the Latino health paradoxes, birth outcomes are expected to be better for recent immigrants through health selection, health behaviors, or living in neighborhood ethnic enclaves. Conversely, birth outcomes are expected to worsen as Latinas acculturate within the US. This study examines the effect of maternal years lived in the US on birth weight. Data for this study come from a randomized control trial of 440 pregnant Latina women (81% Mexican origin) visiting a hospital that provides services to low income, prisoner, or immigration detainee populations. Upon enrollment, participants completed a baseline survey. Once the baby was born, medical outcomes from electronic medical charts were obtained on 332 of the participants. Using linear regression, the impact of the maternal number of years lived in the US on the baby’s birth weight was examined, and models controlled for number of contacts, income, age, number of pregnancies, and current cigarette and alcohol use.  Results indicate a significant curvilinear relationship between years lived in the US and birth weight (B=-40.83, p<.05), with women living in the US between 6 to 15 years having higher birth weight babies, while women living in the US less than 1 year and women born in the US having similar lower weight babies. While the majority of all births fell within the average full-term weight between 2700 and 4000 grams, these analyses point to the complexity of the Latino Health Paradox, as both recent immigrants and those born in the US had lower weight babies, an unexpected finding.