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


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.

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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.

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Correspondence to Robin Hernandez-Mekonnen.

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Hernandez-Mekonnen, R., Duggan, E.K., Oliveros-Rosen, L. et al. Health Literacy in Unauthorized Mexican Immigrant Mothers and Risk of Developmental Delay in their Children. J Immigrant Minority Health 18, 1228–1231 (2016).

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  • Immigrants
  • Child development
  • Health literacy
  • Urban