Children's health, access to care differ by parents' immigrant status

Health is an important part of development, with links to how children do cognitively and academically, and it's a strong predictor of adult health and productivity. A new study of low-income families in the United States has found that children's health and access to health care services differ according to the immigrant status of their parents.

The study, by researchers at Cornell University and the University of Chicago, is published in the journal Child Development, whose September/October 2012 issue has a special section on the children of immigrants.

Although immigrants make up less than 13 percent of the total population, children of immigrants make up 22 percent of all children and 30 percent of low-income children in the United States. Because most children in were born in the United States, they are eligible for government assistance on the same basis as all other U.S. citizens. Yet they differ in the extent to which they have health insurance and use a regular .

The study examined nationally representative data on more than 46,000 low-income children (under age 18) from the 1996, 2001, 2004, and 2008 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation, a survey. Children's was classified according to the status of their parents as nonpermanent residents, permanent residents, naturalized citizens, or members of a native household. The study looked at the of the children as reported by their mothers and at whether the children saw a dentist or doctor in the past year.

Researchers found that low-income children of immigrants have significantly less and see doctors and dentists less often than low-income native-born children. Children with at least one nonpermanent resident parent have the poorest health and are least likely to visit a doctor or a dentist compared to all other children.

"Our findings underscore the idea that those with more precarious immigration statuses show the poorest health outcomes, and that families with noncitizen members face barriers, real or perceived, to using relevant programs—in this case, health-related programs," according to Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest, a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University, who led the study.

"Noncitizen parents may be unaware of their U.S.-born children's eligibility for important benefits, or they may believe that seeking assistance for eligible children would hinder other family members' efforts to obtain citizenship or legal status, or their ability to re-enter and stay in the United States."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Increased morbidity, mortality in food system industries

date 2 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Occupational morbidity and mortality are elevated across food system industries compared with nonfood system industries, according to a study published online May 12 in the Journal of Occupational an ...

Three issues to consider before selecting EHR

date 3 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Work flow, features and functionality, and technical infrastructure should all be considered in advance of selecting an electronic heath record (EHR) system, according to an article published ...

Research letter: Indoor tanning rates drop among US adults

date 4 hours ago

Indoor tanning rates dropped among adults from 5.5 percent in 2010 to 4.2 percent in 2013, although an estimated 7.8 million women and 1.9 million men still engage in the practice, which has been linked to increased cancer ...

Stunting remains a challenge in South Africa

date 5 hours ago

Stunting remains stubbornly persistent in South Africa, despite economic growth, political and social transitions, and national nutritional programmes, says a Wits-led research team.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.