Birth Outcomes among Sub Saharan African Immigrants in Canada and the United States: A Test of the Healthy Immigrant Effect

Zoua M. Vang, McGill University
Irma T. Elo, University of Pennsylvania

We examined differences in mean term birthweight and rates of very low (VLBW) and low birthweight (LBW) for infants born to Sub-Saharan African (SSA) immigrants in Canada versus the US. SSA immigrants in the US had a 53.2 gram deficit in birthweight compared to their counterparts in Canada. Comparison of individual sending countries revealed that immigrants from Congo had the highest birthweight deficit (-89.9 grams) while immigrants from Eritrea had the lowest (-20.1 grams). There were trivial cross-national differences in VLBW/LBW by select sending countries, with the exception of Congolese immigrants in Canada who had significantly lower odds of LBW than their counterparts in the US. Native-born Canadians also had higher mean birthweights and lower odds of VLBW and LBW than native-born Americans. The results suggest that both state selection of healthy migrants and availability of universal healthcare may account for the better health of SSA immigrants in Canada.

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 Presented in Session P7. Health and Mortality of Women, Children and Families