Still a Paradox: Foreign-Born Mexican-Americans Have Healthier Babies Than Native-Born Hispanics

Pilot study on the health status of immigrant women and their children

Between 1997 and 1999, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted a pilot study to identify and assess why immigrant mothers (primarily those from Mexico) living in the United States have better pregnancy outcomes than native-born Hispanic mothers.

Key Findings

Despite being socially and economically disadvantaged, Mexican-American mothers have healthier babies (e.g., higher birth weight, less pre-maturity and fewer infant deaths) than do native-born Hispanic women. Health experts need more data in order to understand this "paradox."

Key Conclusions

The researchers concluded that the foreign-born Mexican-American mothers studied had better pregnancy outcomes than native-born Hispanic mothers because:

  • They were more highly educated.
  • They had better jobs, higher incomes and less teenage pregnancy.
  • They were more integrated into the community and the United States.

They found no differences in outcomes related to "Americanization" (language use and duration of residency in the United States).