Are Latinas Having Healthier Babies Than Their White Counterparts?

Are Latinas Having Healthier Babies Than Their White Counterparts?

A look into the Latina paradox.

The Latina Paradox

Are Latinas Having Healthier Babies Than Their White Counterparts?: A Closer Look into the Latina Paradox

What is it?

The Latina paradox, which is an ancillary of the Latino-health paradox, is the epidemiological observation that rates of low birth weight, infant mortality, premature babies, and pregnancy complications are lower among Latinas (mothers born in Mexico and a few other immigrant sending countries) when compared to their white counterparts and other immigrant populations in the US. This trend occurs despite Latina immigrant mothers’ “disadvantaged risk profiles,” which include low levels of education, low income, and poor access to prenatal care, all of which are strongly associated with birth complications. In fact, according to statistics published in the American Journal of Public health (AJPH), in the year of 2002, the US Latino population had a low-birthweight incidence of 6.5 percent, whereas the incidence was much higher among non-Latino Whites and African Americans, 6.9 percent and 13.4 percent respectively. Such statistics and others provide further evidence that such a paradox exists. Surprisingly, greater assimilation into the US health care system is actually correlated with a decline in this paradox. The“Latina paradox” is most evident among Mexican-born women. But why does such a trend exist?

Explaining the Paradox

Truly Paradoxical: Though varying theories have been posited about the paradox, some questioning its validity and many others vehemently trying to assess why it exists, no one theory has garnered an overwhelming amount of support. Thus, it is safe to say, more work needs to be done in solving this paradox.

The Healthy Migrant Hypothesis: The healthy migrant hypothesis centers around evidence that suggests migrants from other countries that come into the US tend to be healthier than their fellow countrymen to begin with. As a result, it can be said that the healthiest Latinos migrate to the United States in the first place and thus they give rise to healthier babies. Though this hypothesis is always considered with the Latina paradox, it does have its flaws. For one, this hypothesis does not account for why the trend seen in the Latina paradox is not seen among other immigrant groups. Why aren't lower rates of pregnancy complications present among other immigrant groups, such as Asians or Africans as well, both of whom are also considered in the healthy migrant hypothesis.

Defining the Latino Identity: According to the Huffington Post, skeptics of the Latina paradox have also considered the possibility that existence of this paradox is a result of a statistical error due to the vast diversity of the Latino population and not much more than that. The Latino population, for example, encompasses everyone from Mexican Americans to Puerto-Rican Americans alike. Thus, many argue that issues that exist with self-identifying as a Latino American have resulted in the statistical error that is the Latina paradox. However, this perspective is rather difficult to bear, because the Latina paradox has been observed many times and in many places since its initial conception and thus it has becomes less likely that it is a result of a statistical error from incorrect identification.

Marianismo: The American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) has also examined marianismo, an archetype of womanhood that has existed in Mexican culture for some time, as a possible contributor to the existence of the Latina paradox. Marianismo espouses ideals of femininity and womanhood that are largely based on Catholic ideals. According to the AJPH, aspects of marianismo that potentially explain the existence of the Latina paradox are "strong cultural support for maternity, healthy traditional dietary practices, and the norm of selfless devotion"(AJPH). These ideals serve as protective factors in pregnancies and can be seen as contributing to the healthier pregnancy outcomes that are characteristic of the Latina Paradox.

Aspiration: In the anthropological work "Patient Citizens, Immigrant Mothers", a book investigating why the Latina paradox exists, Alyshia Galvez highlights the theme of “aspiracion[aspiration]” . She uses "aspiration" to explore the underlying causes of the Latina paradox. “Aspiracion” is a Spanish verb that aptly describes the sentiments Latina women feel towards their migration to the US, their pregnancy, and their knowledge of prenatal care. The term encapsulates how these women see themselves as agents of upwards mobility for their family, a role they believe is tied to both successful migration to the US and the delivery of healthy children. Hence, these women view their pregnancies as blessings and are confident in their knowledge about what is best for their babies. To Galvez, Latina women's positive perspective on their pregnancy and unwavering faith in their own ability to manage their pregnancy fill the gap created by poor access to prenatal care and correspondingly contribute to the Latina paradox.

Intergenerational Knowledge Transfer and other Social Support: Throughout her book, Galvez also discusses the prominent role of kinship relationships, especially female kinship relationships, in shaping the pregnancy experiences and outcomes of Mexican women in Mexico and in America soon after their migration. Such relationships almost always involve mothers, sisters, and especially the mothers of the pregnant woman's husband. Galvez argues that such relationships contribute to the Latina paradox. For example, mothers of the woman themselves or of the woman's significant other transmit knowledge about best foods for pregnant mothers, prenatal care practices, and advice about general wellbeing to their pregnant daughters, often even after their daughters have migrated to the US. This is known as intergenerational knowledge transfer and is considered to be an important contributor to the Latina paradox. As Galvez notes, Latina women enjoy these strong kinship relationships both during and after their pregnancies, which result in multiple sources of advice for taking care of oneself and her baby throughout the process. Thus, these increased sources of care and support afforded by the cultural and social resources of Latinas, Galvez notes, likely counteracts poor prenatal care and contributes to the Latina paradox. Other social support, such as from the community as a whole, is also seen among Latinas in their home countries and in the US and is further believed to contribute to the paradox.

Why Should We Care?

Increasing efficiency and outcomes of American prenatal care: Pregnancies of other immigrant populations and that of white populations exhibit higher rates of low birth-weight babies and pregnancy complications compared to that of Latinas. This is despite the fact that Latinas have poor access to prenatal care and even when access is fair, they do not use prenatal care as often as other populations. Thus, perhaps a closer investigation of Latina prenatal care usage, including their use of the American model and also other cultural factors that take the place of prenatal care, should be conducted. The knowledge from such an investigation can then be used to adjust the American prenatal care system to lead to better pregnancy outcomes for all women. Considering the contribution of strong relationships to the Latina paradox, this adjustment of prenatal care based on the model used by Latina women may even lead to lower costs for the American healthcare system as it would focus on relationships instead of more time in the hospital or more time with expensive equipment, tests, or treatment.

Rising Beyond the Rhetoric that Providing Prenatal Care to Undocumented Immigrants Would be Too Costly: According to, access to prenatal care for women who are undocumented immigrants differs drastically across the country, because of state-level policies and interpretations. Thus, it is important to consider extending prenatal care to undocumented Latina immigrants at a more federal level, especially because costs for such programs may not be as high as certain rhetoric would suggest. After all, Latinas as a group have already shown that they are smart connoisseurs of prenatal care, using it more efficiently than other groups to achieve better pregnancy outcomes.

Cover Image Credit: Huffington Post

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A Recipe For Disaster

The labyrinth of the United States' politics.

"Avec l'émeute déjà qui gronde Paris ressemble à un volcan Prêt à vomir la lave de sa colère" - Enjolras, Les Miserables French Musical version, Donnez, Donnez (Look Down)

"with the rumbling riots here, Paris resembles a volcano with its angry top ready to explode!" - English translation of those lines.

My poor Patria! You sink further and further into the labyrinth and ignore the cries of the people. Patria, how long will the people cry? Before our people all leave and emigrate, the only option left for young people living in the USA.

Well, not the only option- the other one is be involved in a field you are totally not passionate about, or talented in- but heyy that's what the economy needs! who cares if you hate it?

What about this? a world where everybody gets jobs in fields where they are passionate about, a world where you work at what you are good at?

My friends, this is a recipe for discontent that shouldn't be ignored.

Before anybody calls me a Communist- no, I'm not. Communism was a terrible and oppressive system.

This article is to mainly address there is a problem here in the United States and we must address this problem and instead of doing nothing about it, before the volcano erupts.

What is this division? We are all talking about it, and we all know its bad to have a nation this sharply divided. What caused it?

Citizen, you are requesting me to enter into the labyrinth of politics (thank you Simon Bolivar for the cool term) and I shall do my best to emerge unharmed, after all I'm already in the labyrinth. Time to take you into the labyrinth with me, so you can see up close these issues that are effecting you today...

Welcome to the Labyrinth;

Once upon a time, we were 13 colonies fighting to throw off the chains of a tyrannical empire! Now it was pretty hard to unite these colonies into a union but we did it-- kind of.

The father of our country, George Washington warned us not to form two parties.

What did we do??

Form two parties anyway. I'm looking at you Alexander Hamilton and your centralized government buddies, and you Thomas Jefferson and your states rights.

Now both Hamilton and Jefferson were interesting men and I strongly encourage you to read their works. But like all historical figures, they did some awful things and this was one of them.

The two party system successfully divided us into two camps.

Now the 19th century, easily the most heated century in US Politics- it makes the current mess seem like child's play!

Pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces divided strongly into two camps. Now sadly, the abolitionists were a minority-- most people were more concerned about saving the union.

Excuse me citizen, hand me that soapbox

Slavery, a terrible ugly stain on this nation was a major point of contention. Of course many other factors came into the Civil War- cultural misunderstandings, deaths of major compromisers, states rights, constitutional issues, etc.

After the Civil War our nation tried to "hide our wounds" instead of "mend up our wounds" (as Lincoln said) we glossed over the ugly points of history, we put talking politics and religion to the backroom.

With the Cold War, politics and religion were strongly discouraged discussion points because we needed to be united against the Soviets.

20th Century USA was dominated by fear- fear even of refugees escaping both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Fear of those ideologies, so we became like a turtle in a shell.

While many great medical and technological advances happened in the 20th century, it was a dark century for human rights.

Please stay turned for Part II

Cover Image Credit: Emily Hausheer

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The Electoral College Needs To GO

In which I discuss the history of the Electoral College, why it was created, and why it must be abolished.

The Electoral College is a system that has complete power to decide who will be the next president of the United States of America. It is actually the worst way to decide who will become president because it gives no power to the people to make the decision. It has was created in 1803 by our founding fathers to help elect the president. There a variety of reasons why people believe the founding fathers thought it was a good idea to create it.

The college is a process where a group of 538 electors come together in December of the election year and vote for president. The number of electors each state has varies depending on how many congressmen they have in their state. Electors are mostly chosen by the political parties within each state, although this process may vary depending on each state.

After the state receives which political party won the popular vote in their state they will then send the winner's party's batch of electors to vote for the US President. Twenty-nine states out of fifty have laws stating that the electors must vote based on what the popular vote, while the other twenty-one states allow them to vote however they choose to do so. This has caused a stir within the United States due to past elections and the president the Electoral College elected.

There has been a total of five different elections in the past where the candidate who won the Electoral College vote, lost the popular vote. The first time this affected the United States was during the sixth US election in the year 1825, and the last time it happened was the last election in the year 2016.

John Quincy Adams was the first president who did not get the popular vote but received the honor of becoming president. Andrew Jackson received 152,901 popular votes to John Quincy Adam's 114,023. None of the candidates received the total number of required Electoral College votes to be elected president. Therefore, the choice was left up to Congress. Congress then revealed that they chose John Quincy Adams to be the 6th president of the United States of America.

The next time it happened was fifty-two years later when president Rutherford B. Hayes won with 4,034,311 votes against Samuel J. Tilden with 4,288,566 votes. After president Hayes, Benjamin Harrison beat Grover Cleveland and secured the presidency even with Cleveland receiving 90,596 more votes than Harrison.

In 2000 George W. Bush Jr. won the presidency against Al Gore who secured 543,895 more votes than Bush. Finally, and most recently Donald J Trump was named president after receiving 2,868,686 fewer votes than Hilary Clinton.

There have been six occasions where the people's vote did not matter, and because of this many people are questioning the policy and how the US could change it to better suit how voting results turn out, some are even trying to abolish the Electoral College altogether. Many states have laws stating that the Electors must vote according to the popular vote, if this is implemented throughout all fifty states then why have the Electoral College at all? Why not just use the popular vote alone?

When addressing the question whether we should abolish the Electoral College many people ask why it was created. There are two major theories as to why the founding fathers created such a law.

The first major theory is that the Electoral College was created because regular uneducated Americans would not have enough information (due to lack of fast communication) to choose the most qualified presidential candidate. This is a very valid reason for the creation of the Electoral College, but we no longer have a lack of knowledge problem. Therefore, we should remove the policy.

The second theory was that the Electoral College was created in order to balance the interests of high-population and low-population states. Although the Electoral College does helpless populated states, it hurts the more populated states. Those of smaller and less populated states’ votes matter more than those of more populated states; which is not a good reason to keep the Electoral College.

As a result of the Elector College voter turnout is declining in safe states, and not enough people are voting because they believe their vote no longer matters. If we continue to keep the Electoral College, fewer and fewer voters will be coming out to vote in safe states, and most likely in all states. We must make a change to the Electoral College, or else the future result may be dire.

Cover Image Credit: Art Bastard

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