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Immigration Raids Linked to Low Birth Weight Babies Among Latina Mothers

by Dr. Trupti Shirole on February 2, 2017 at 6:56 PM
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 Immigration Raids Linked to Low Birth Weight Babies Among Latina Mothers

In the wake of the Postville immigration raid, United States-born and immigrant Latino families' feared deportations and follow-up raids, and faced increased economic and social marginalization. These stressors permeated the lives of both United States-born and foreign-born Latina mothers.

New findings, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, found that there was an increase in the number of low birth weight babies born to US-born and immigrant Latina mothers after a search at a kosher slaughterhouse and meat packing plant in Iowa, in which federal authorities arrested nearly 400 immigrant workers without required identity papers.

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The search, known as the Postville raid of 2008, is an extreme example of the spread and magnitude of racialized stress factors that Latinos face throughout the US. It was, at the time, the largest single- site federal immigration raid in US history. The impact of this event created conditions that lend insight into the lasting effects of stress, which are often difficult to measure.

This study examined ethnicity-specific patterns in birth outcomes before and after the Postville raid. Researchers analyzed Iowa birth certificate data to compare the risk of babies born at a low birth weight, by ethnicity and national origin. The analysis compared infants born in the 37 weeks following the raid to those born in the same 37 week period the previous year- 2007.
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Findings indicated that infants born to immigrant and U.S.-born Latina mothers had a 24% greater risk of being born at a low birth weight when compared to the same period one year earlier. No such change was observed among infants born to non-Latina white mothers. Furthermore, analyses revealed a higher risk of moderate premature birth (32 to <37 weeks) after the raid among Latina mothers.

This study provides evidence in the repercussions of selective immigration policies and enforcement on American Latinos. The effects could put their health at significant risk, even for U.S.-born Latina mothers facing no risk of deportation themselves.

Lead author Nicole Novak said, "The stressors due to the Postville immigration raid permeated the lives of both U.S.-born and foreign-born Latina mothers, potentially activating harmful physiological responses that could result in the poor birth outcomes we documented among their babies."

Source: Eurekalert
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