Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 177–187 | Cite as

Birth Outcomes of Immigrant Women in the United States, France, and Belgium

  • Sylvia GuendelmanEmail author
  • Pierre Buekens
  • Beatrice Blondel
  • Monique Kaminski
  • Francis C. Notzon
  • Godelieve Masuy-Stroobant


Objectives: To compare maternal characteristics and birth outcomes of Mexico-born and native-born mothers in the United States and those of North African mothers living in France and Belgium to French and Belgian nationals. Methods: We examined information from single live birth certificates for 285,371 Mexico-born and 3,131,632 U.S.-born mothers (including 2,537,264 U.S.-born White mothers) in the United States, 4,623 North African and 103,345 Belgian mothers in Belgium, and a French national random sample consisting of 632 North African and 11,185 French mothers. The outcomes were mean birthweight, low birthweight, and preterm births. Differences between native/nationals and foreign-born mothers in each country were assessed in bivariate and multivariate analyses controlling for maternal risk factors. Results: The adjusted odds for low birthweight were lower for immigrants than native/nationals by 32% in the United States, by 32% in Belgium, and by 30% in France. The adjusted odds for preterm births were lower for immigrants compared with native/nationals by 11% in the United States and by 23% in Belgium. In France, the odds for preterm births were comparable for immigrants and naturalized mothers. Infants of immigrant mothers also had higher mean birthweights in all three countries. Conclusion: Despite their disadvantaged status, Mexico-born and North African-born women residing in the United States, France, and Belgium show good birth outcomes. These cannot be explained solely by traditional risk factors. Protective factors and selective migration may offer further clues.

Immigrant women birth outcomes epidemiological paradox low birthweight preterm births birthweight French mothers Belgian mothers North African mothers Mexico-born mothers 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sylvia Guendelman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Pierre Buekens
    • 2
  • Beatrice Blondel
    • 3
  • Monique Kaminski
    • 3
  • Francis C. Notzon
    • 4
  • Godelieve Masuy-Stroobant
    • 5
  1. 1.Division of Health Policy and Management and Maternal and Child Health Program, School of Public HealthUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeley
  2. 2.Department of Maternal and Child Health, School of Public HealthUniversity of North CarolinaChapel Hill
  3. 3.INSERMParisFrance
  4. 4.Office of International StatisticsNational Center for Health StatisticsHyattsville
  5. 5.Institute of DemographyCatholic University of LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium

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