Another Mexican Birthweight Paradox? The Effect of Immigrant Enclaves and Neighborhood Poverty on the Birthweight of Mexican Origin Infants

Theresa L. Osypuk, University of Michigan
Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, Harvard University

We examined whether Mexican-origin infants in the U.S. exhibit worse health in metropolitan areas (MA) with higher Mexican-American residential segregation. We calculated MA segregation (exposure) indices for Mexican-Americans using Census 2000 data (168 MAs), and merged with Detail Natality year-2000 individual-level birth records (n=490,332). We examined segregation as predictor, mother’s place-of-birth as effect modifier, and birthweight as outcome in cross-sectional 2-level hierarchical-linear-regression, adjusting for individual, MA, and region covariates. Living in highly segregated (isolation) Mas and in MAs where Mexican-Americans had high exposure to poverty (EPOV) and high exposure to foreign born Mexicans (EFBMEX) were associated with lower infant birthweight for U.S. born (USB) Mexican-American mothers. However, foreign-born (FB) Mexican women were buffered against negative infant birthweight associations. Controlling for isolation, EFBMEX exhibited positive associations for both USB and FB. Controlling for EFBMEX, negative effects of isolation intensified for USB. Our findings suggest a paradox: immigrant enclaves exert both negative and positive health associations, further modified by nativity.

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Presented in Session 85: Immigrant Health