The "Latina epidemiologic paradox" refers to the observation that despite socioeconomic disadvantages, Latina mothers in the United States (US) have a similar or lower risk for delivering an infant with low birth weight (LBW) compared to non-Latina White mothers. An analogous paradox may exist between foreign-born (FB) and US-born (USB) Latinas. Our goal was to assess differences in LBW in USB Latinas, FB Latinas, and non-Latina Whites in Los Angeles County in 2003 using birth records and survey data. Using logistic regression, we estimated associations between LBW and birthplace/ethnicity in a birth cohort and nested survey responder group and between LBW and acculturation in responders to a follow-up survey. USB Latinas and FB Latinas had a higher prevalence of LBW infants compared to Whites (odds ratio [OR] = 1.34, 95% confidence interval [CI] = (1.17, 1.53) and OR = 1.32, 95% CI = (1.18, 1.49), respectively); when we adjusted for additional maternal risk factors these point estimates were attenuated, and interval estimates were consistent with a modest positive or inverse association. Among Latinas only, LBW was more common for high-acculturated FB and USB Latinas compared to low-acculturated FB Latinas, and there was limited evidence that environmental or behavior risk factors had less impact in low-acculturated Latinas. In summary, adjusting only for demographics, Latinas in our study were more likely to have LBW infants compared to Whites, in contrast to the Latina paradox hypothesis. Furthermore, adjusting for environmental or behavioral factors attenuated the positive association, but there was little evidence that Latinas had a lower prevalence of LBW regardless of the variables included in the models. Finally, among Latinas, there was limited evidence that associations between known risk factors and LBW were modified by acculturation.
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