Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 1228–1231 | Cite as

Health Literacy in Unauthorized Mexican Immigrant Mothers and Risk of Developmental Delay in their Children

  • Robin Hernandez-MekonnenEmail author
  • Elise K. Duggan
  • Leonel Oliveros-Rosen
  • Marsha Gerdes
  • Stanton Wortham
  • Jack Ludmir
  • Ian M. Bennett
Brief Communication


The incidence of developmental delay and early intervention (EI) service utilization is not well documented among unauthorized Mexican immigrants, a vulnerable population. Individual interviews were conducted in Spanish with Mexican born women receiving maternal health care. Children 12–60 months of age were screened for developmental delay using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. 12 % (n = 8) of children assessed (n = 65) were at risk for developmental delay. Of those at risk 38 % (n = 3) participated in EI. An additional 26 % of the children (n = 17) qualified for further monitoring, and of those 59 % (n = 10) received EI. Women with low health literacy had more than four times the odds of having a child with risk of developmental delay (aOR 4.4; 95 % CI 1.3–15.4). Developmental delay was associated with low maternal health literacy in unauthorized Mexican immigrants; however, rates of self-reported EI use in this population are higher than those seen nationally.


Immigrants Child development Health literacy Urban 



The research reported was supported by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Program, University of Pennsylvania. Elise Duggan was supported by a fellowship grant from the FOCUS on Women’s Health program, University of Pennsylvania.


  1. 1.
    McManus BM, Carle AC, Poehlmann J. Effectiveness of part C early intervention physical, occupational, and speech therapy services for preterm or low birth weight infants in Wisconsin, United States. Acad Pediatr. 2012;12(2):96–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Rosenberg SA, Zhang D, Robinson CC. Prevalence of developmental delays and participation in early intervention services for young children. Pediatrics. 2008;121(6):E1503–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Guevara JP, Gerdes M, Localio R, et al. Effectiveness of developmental screening in an urban setting. Pediatrics. 2013;131(1):30–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Passel JS, Cohn DV. Unauthorized Immigrant Population: National and State Trends, 2010, Pew Hispanic Center, Washington DC. Published February 1, 2011. Accessed 12 July 2013.
  5. 5.
    Clements KM, Barfield WD, Kotelchuck M, Wilber N. Maternal socio-economic and race/ethnic characteristics associated with early intervention participation. Matern Child Health J. 2008;12(6):708–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Sanders LM, Federico S, Klass P, Abrams MA, Dreyer B. Literacy and child health: a systematic review. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2009;163(2):131–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Yin HS, Sanders LM, Rothman RL, et al. Assessment of health literacy and numeracy among Spanish-speaking parents of young children: validation of the Spanish parental health literacy activities test (PHLAT Spanish). Acad Pediatr. 2012;12(1):68–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Green CM, Berkule SB, Dreyer BP, et al. Maternal literacy and associations between education and the cognitive home environment in low-income families. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2009;163(9):832–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hammer CS, Farkas G, Maczuga S. The language and literacy development of head start children: a study using the family and child experiences survey database. Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch. 2010;41(1):70–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social and Behavioral SciencesStockton UniversityGallowayUSA
  2. 2.Perelman School of Medicine at the University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesChildren’s Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaUSA
  4. 4.Graduate School of Education of the University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  5. 5.Pennsylvania HospitalPhiladelphiaUSA
  6. 6.Department of Family MedicineUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

Personalised recommendations