Positive Pregnancy Outcomes in Mexican Immigrants: What Can We Learn?
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OBJECTIVE: To provide an integrated review of the literature of potential explanations for better than expected pregnancy outcomes in Mexican immigrants, focusing on socioeconomics, social support, desirability of pregnancy, nutrition, substance use, religion, acculturation, and prenatal care. DATA SOURCES: Computerized searches of MEDLINE and CINAHL databases, as well as reference lists from published articles on low birth weight and prematurity in immigrants and acculturation in immigrants from January 1989 to December 2002. Search terms were Mexican immigrant women, childbearing, and pregnancy outcome, and only English-language articles were reviewed. STUDY SELECTION: Literature was selected from refereed publications in the areas of nursing, medicine, public health, family, and sociology. DATA EXTRACTION: Data were extracted using keywords pertinent to pregnancy outcome in Mexican immigrants. DATA SYNTHESIS: Despite having many of the risk factors for poor pregnancy outcomes, Mexican immigrants have superior birth outcomes when compared to U.S.-born women. Social support, familism, healthy diet, limited use of cigarettes and alcohol, and religion may play a role in improved outcomes. The superior outcomes diminish with the process of acculturation as the individual adapts to her new culture. CONCLUSIONS: Low birth weight and prematurity are public health concerns in the United States. Through further study of the factors that lead to superior birth outcomes among Mexican immigrant women, rates of low birth weight and prematurity in the United States may be reduced.
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