Is there an epidemiological paradox for birth outcomes among Colorado women of Mexican origin? Si y no: It depends on the outcome

2009 2009

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Abstract (summary)

This study examines whether an epidemiological paradox exists for low birth weight, preterm birth, small for gestational age, and large for gestational age among Hispanic mothers in Colorado. It compares birth outcomes by race/ethnicity and place of birth (Mexico or U.S.) to identify individual- and neighborhood-level contributors and to contextualize quantitative findings.

The study analyses two retrospective cohorts all mothers (N=356,389) and mothers of Mexican origin (N=85,755) delivering singletons in Colorado during 2000–2005, using multiple logistic regression to test the social gradient of health by race/ethnicity and by nativity, to identify any paradoxical outcomes, and to explore the healthy migrant and healthy immigrant explanations for better outcomes among Mexican-born mothers. General linear regression analyzes the association of neighborhood deprivation and immigrant orientation for mothers of Mexican origin in Adams (N=16,107) and Denver (N=23,332) Counties. Five interviews with key informants and ten interviews with mothers of Mexican origin, half of whom were born in Mexico, are analyzed using directed content analysis.

Four key findings emerge. First, an epidemiological paradox exists for Hispanics for all four birth outcomes, despite having worse social and medical profiles than non-Hispanic White mothers. Second, the paradox exists for Mexican-born mothers for low birth weight, preterm birth, and small for gestational age. No paradox exists for large for gestational age. Third, neither the healthy migrant nor healthy immigrant explanation is supported. Finally, neighborhood measures of immigrant orientation and neighborhood deprivation do not influence the likelihood of outcomes in Adams and Denver Counties.

The public health importance centers on the identification of a hidden epidemic of large for gestational age among Mexican-born mothers and insight into the structure of health disparities. Any paradox at the low-weight end of the spectrum of birth outcomes no longer obscures the existence of negative high-weight outcomes, an important finding in Colorado where Hispanics represent 30% of singleton births. The broader political economic perspective suggests that reliance on individual-level interventions alone is insufficient to reduce LGA disparities because Mexican-born immigrants are constrained by structural barriers to better health outcomes, including poverty, lack of access to healthy foods, and social and linguistic isolation.

Indexing (details)

Public health;
Hispanic American studies;
0380: Medicine
0573: Public health
0737: Hispanic American studies
0766: Epidemiology
Identifier / keyword
Health and environmental sciences; Social sciences; Birth outcomes; Hispanic paradox; Immigrant paradox; Large for gestational age; Mexican origin
Is there an epidemiological paradox for birth outcomes among Colorado women of Mexican origin? Si y no: It depends on the outcome
Devine, Sharon Jean
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-B 70/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Niermeyer, Susan
University of Colorado at Denver
University location
United States -- Colorado
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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