Online Program

Increase in low birth weight among infants born to Latina mothers after a major immigration raid

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 3:30 p.m. - 3:50 p.m.

Nicole Novak, PhD, MSc, Population Studies Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Aresha Martinez-Cardoso, MSPH, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Arline Geronimus, ScD, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Background: Immigration policy and enforcement practices lead to sociopolitical and economic marginalization and psychosocial stress that may affect the health of both US-born and foreign-born Latinos. This study examines the effect of the federal immigration raid in Postville, Iowa in 2008 (the largest raid in US history) on the risk of low birth weight (LBW), a stress-sensitive birth outcome, among infants born to US-born and foreign-born Latina women.

Methods: We used birth-certificate data from infants born to Hispanic and non-Hispanic White mothers in Iowa to compare the risk of LBW in the nine months following the raid to the same nine-month period the previous year (n=52909).  We used modified Poisson regression to estimate risk ratios by ethnicity and nativity.  

Results: There was no change in risk of LBW among infants born to White mothers after the immigration raid. Infants born to Hispanic mothers had a 29% greater risk of LBW in the nine months after the raid when compared to infants born during the same period one year earlier (Risk Ratio [95% CI]=1.29 [1.01,1.64]). This effect was evident among infants born to both foreign-born and US-born Hispanic mothers and persisted after adjustment for confounders.

Conclusions: The increase in LBW among infants born to US- and foreign-born Latina mothers after a major immigration raid suggests stress-mediated health effects of immigration enforcement.  Effects in US-born Latina mothers may be due to relationships with immigrants and/or psychosocial and economic stress caused by being racialized as immigrants themselves.  

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the ethnicity- and nativity-specific changes in low birth weight after a major immigration raid. Discuss the implications of this finding for broader discussions about immigration policy, racialization and Latino health.

Keyword(s): Latinos, Stress

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I helped design the study and obtain and analyze the data. The study relates to my research interests in upstream influences on biological stress for immigrant and Latino populations.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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