IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

International migration to Canada: The post-birth health of mothers and infants by immigration class


  • Gagnon, Anita J.
  • Dougherty, Geoffrey
  • Wahoush, Olive
  • Saucier, Jean-François
  • Dennis, Cindy-Lee
  • Stanger, Elizabeth
  • Palmer, Becky
  • Merry, Lisa
  • Stewart, Donna E.


There are over 214 million international migrants worldwide, half of whom are women, and all of them assigned by the receiving country to an immigration class. Immigration classes are associated with certain health risks and regulatory restrictions related to eligibility for health care. Prior to this study, reports of international migrant post-birth health had not been compared between immigration classes, with the exception of our earlier, smaller study in which we found asylum-seekers to be at greatest risk for health concerns. In order to determine whether refugee or asylum-seeking women or their infants experience a greater number or a different distribution of professionally-identified health concerns after birth than immigrant or Canadian-born women, we recruited 1127 migrant (and in Canada <5 years) women–infant pairs, defined by immigration class (refugee, asylum-seeker, immigrant, or Canadian-born). Between February 2006 and May 2009, we followed them from childbirth (in one of eleven birthing centres in Montreal or Toronto) to four months and found that at one week postpartum, asylum-seeking and immigrant women had greater rates of professionally-identified health concerns than Canadian-born women; and at four months, all three migrant groups had greater rates of professionally-identified concerns. Further, international migrants were at greater risk of not having these concerns addressed by the Canadian health care system. The current study supports our earlier findings and highlights the need for case-finding and services for international migrant women, particularly for psychosocial difficulties. Policy and program mechanisms to address migrants' needs would best be developed within the various immigration classes.

Suggested Citation

  • Gagnon, Anita J. & Dougherty, Geoffrey & Wahoush, Olive & Saucier, Jean-François & Dennis, Cindy-Lee & Stanger, Elizabeth & Palmer, Becky & Merry, Lisa & Stewart, Donna E., 2013. "International migration to Canada: The post-birth health of mothers and infants by immigration class," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 197-207.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:76:y:2013:i:c:p:197-207 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.11.001

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    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. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1999:89:8:1231-1234_8 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Janevic, T. & Savitz, D.A. & Janevic, M., 2011. "Maternal education and adverse birth outcomes among immigrant women to the United States from Eastern Europe: A test of the healthy migrant hypothesis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 429-435, August.
    4. 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.
    5. Miller, Kenneth E. & Rasmussen, Andrew, 2010. "War exposure, daily stressors, and mental health in conflict and post-conflict settings: Bridging the divide between trauma-focused and psychosocial frameworks," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 7-16, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:76:y:2013:i:c:p:197-207. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.