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Prenatal care among immigrant and racial-ethnic minority women in a new immigrant destination: Exploring the impact of immigrant legal status


  • Korinek, Kim
  • Smith, Ken R.


Despite the rising share of undocumented immigrants in the US population, research has been quite limited regarding immigrant legal status and how it may limit healthcare access, especially research involving direct identification of undocumented populations. Drawing upon the Utah Population Database, a unique, comprehensive linked system of vital, medical, and administrative records, we analyze the prenatal care utilization in a large and recent cohort of births to mothers residing in the pre-emerging immigrant gateway state of Utah. Our analyses focus on the racial-ethnic, nativity and legal status of mothers as factors that influence prenatal care utilization. State administrative records are used to assess legal status among foreign-born mothers, specifically driver privilege cards made available to undocumented migrants. Our results indicate the importance of disaggregating the expansive categories of Hispanics and the foreign born to better understand health outcomes and healthcare utilization among immigrants. In particular, we find that the legal status of immigrant mothers is one of several important factors influencing prenatal care utilization. Undocumented women are among the least likely to obtain adequate levels of prenatal care. However, undocumented women's prenatal care utilization is enhanced among those using the state's integrative driver privilege program, and among those residing in neighborhoods with high concentrations of immigrants. Results are discussed in light of theory on immigrant integration and healthcare access, and in terms of public policies, such as those extending driver privileges to unauthorized immigrants, which aim to facilitate immigrants' access to institutions within destination communities.

Suggested Citation

  • Korinek, Kim & Smith, Ken R., 2011. "Prenatal care among immigrant and racial-ethnic minority women in a new immigrant destination: Exploring the impact of immigrant legal status," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(10), pages 1695-1703, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:72:y:2011:i:10:p:1695-1703

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gagnon, A.J. & Zimbeck, M. & Zeitlin, J., 2009. "Migration to western industrialised countries and perinatal health: A systematic review," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 69(6), pages 934-946, September.
    2. Wolff, Hans & Stalder, Hans & Epiney, Manuella & Walder, Angela & Irion, Olivier & Morabia, Alfredo, 2005. "Health care and illegality: a survey of undocumented pregnant immigrants in Geneva," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(9), pages 2149-2154, May.
    3. Bollini, Paola & Pampallona, Sandro & Wanner, Philippe & Kupelnick, Bruce, 2009. "Pregnancy outcome of migrant women and integration policy: A systematic review of the international literature," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 452-461, February.
    4. Kelaher, Margaret & Jessop, Dorothy Jones, 2002. "Differences in low-birthweight among documented and undocumented foreign-born and US-born Latinas," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 55(12), pages 2171-2175, December.
    5. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2004:94:10:1807-1812_6 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1994:84:9:1414-1420_1 is not listed on IDEAS
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    1. repec:eee:socmed:v:199:y:2018:i:c:p:19-28 is not listed on IDEAS


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