Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Report Examines Black Immigrant Mothers’ Prenatal Behaviors and Birth Outcomes

Although most of the research literature finds that foreign-born mothers experience better birth outcomes than their U.S.-born counterparts, the birth experiences of black immigrant mothers have received relatively little attention. In addition, little is known about black immigrants’ prenatal behaviors such as smoking and use of prenatal care.

In Black and Immigrant: Exploring the Effects of Ethnicity and Foreign-Born Status on Infant Health, Virginia Commonwealth University health economist Dr. Tiffany Green compares prenatal behaviors and birth outcomes of black immigrant mothers to those of other immigrant and U.S.-born mothers, using federal vital statistics. The report also analyzes mothers’ rates of smoking and prenatal care use.

Green finds that black immigrant mothers are less likely to give birth to preterm or low-birth-weight infants than U.S.-born black women, yet are more likely to experience these adverse birth outcomes than other groups of immigrant and U.S.-born women. Green also finds that although black immigrant mothers are the least likely of any group, U.S. or foreign-born, to smoke, they also have the lowest rates of first-trimester prenatal-care initiation. However, neither smoking nor prenatal-care initiation can explain why black immigrant mothers experience poorer infant health outcomes than their non-black counterparts.


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