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Birthweight of children of immigrants by maternal duration of residence in the United States


  • Teitler, Julien O.
  • Hutto, Nathan
  • Reichman, Nancy E.


A large literature on immigrant health in the U.S. has shown that immigrants tend to be healthier and live longer than both individuals who remain in their countries of origin and natives of their host countries who are of the same race or ethnicity. However, this immigrant health advantage appears to diminish with duration of residence in the U.S. Few studies of the effects of immigrants’ exposure to the U.S. have focused on perinatal health. This study used three contemporary national datasets to describe patterns in infant birthweight by maternal duration of residence in the U.S. For both immigrants overall and Hispanic immigrants in particular, rates of low birthweight appeared to decline over the first few years in the U.S. and increase thereafter. This curvilinear association was robust across the three datasets and deviates somewhat from the prevailing notion that immigrant health declines monotonically over time. Additionally, we found no evidence that prenatal substance use increased with duration of residence in the U.S.

Suggested Citation

  • Teitler, Julien O. & Hutto, Nathan & Reichman, Nancy E., 2012. "Birthweight of children of immigrants by maternal duration of residence in the United States," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(3), pages 459-468.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:3:p:459-468
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.03.038

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2001:91:3:392-399_5 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Nancy E. Reichman & Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Dhaval Dave, 2009. "Infant health production functions: what a difference the data make," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(7), pages 761-782.
    3. Robert Kaestner & Jay A. Pearson & Danya Keene & Arline T. Geronimus, 2009. "Stress, Allostatic Load, and Health of Mexican Immigrants," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1089-1111.
    4. Guillermina Jasso & Douglas S. Massey & Mark R. Rosenzweig & James P. Smith, 2004. "Immigrant Health--Selectivity and Acculturation," Labor and Demography 0412002, EconWPA.
    5. Heather Antecol & Kelly Bedard, 2006. "Unhealthy assimilation: Why do immigrants converge to American health status levels?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 43(2), pages 337-360, May.
    6. Barry R. Chiswick & Yew Liang Lee & Paul W. Miller, 2008. "Immigrant Selection Systems And Immigrant Health," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(4), pages 555-578, October.
    7. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1996:86:6:837-843_0 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. 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.
    9. Bruce Newbold, K., 2005. "Self-rated health within the Canadian immigrant population: risk and the healthy immigrant effect," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(6), pages 1359-1370, March.
    10. Zsembik, Barbara A. & Fennell, Dana, 2005. "Ethnic variation in health and the determinants of health among Latinos," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 53-63, July.
    11. McDonald, James Ted & Kennedy, Steven, 2004. "Insights into the 'healthy immigrant effect': health status and health service use of immigrants to Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(8), pages 1613-1627, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Melissa L. Martinson & Marta Tienda, 2016. "Birthing, Nativity, and Maternal Depression: Australia and the United States," International Migration Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 793-824, September.
    2. Juárez, Sol P. & Hjern, Anders, 2017. "The weight of inequalities: Duration of residence and offspring's birthweight among migrant mothers in Sweden," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 175(C), pages 81-90.
    3. Jonas Kinge & Tom Kornstad, 2014. "Assimilation effects on infant mortality among immigrants in Norway: Does maternal source country matter?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 31(26), pages 779-812, October.
    4. repec:bla:intmig:v:51:y:2017:i:1:p:37-66 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Kate H. Choi & Sara S. McLanahan, 2013. "Multiracial infants and low birth weight: Evidence from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study," Working Papers 1477, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
    6. Fernando Riosmena & Randall Kuhn & Warren C. Jochem, 2017. "Explaining the Immigrant Health Advantage: Self-selection and Protection in Health-Related Factors Among Five Major National-Origin Immigrant Groups in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(1), pages 175-200, February.
    7. Hector Cebolla-Boado & Leire Salazar, 2016. "Differences in perinatal health between immigrant and native-origin children: Evidence from differentials in birth weight in Spain," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 35(7), pages 167-200, July.
    8. Tiffany Green, 2014. "Hispanic Self-identification and Birth Weight Outcomes among U.S.- and Foreign-born Blacks," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 41(3), pages 319-336, September.
    9. repec:eee:socmed:v:194:y:2017:i:c:p:168-176 is not listed on IDEAS


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