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.
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
‘There was an increase in the number of low birth weight babies born to United States-born and immigrant Latina mothers.’
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.
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.
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."