Mexican immigrants to the US not as healthy as believed, study finds
Immigrants who come to the United States from Mexico arrive with a significant amount of undiagnosed disease, tempering previous findings that immigrants are generally healthier than native-born residents, according to a new study.
About half of recent Mexican immigrants who have diabetes are unaware they have the disease and about one-third of those with high blood pressure are unaware of the illness, according to findings published in the December edition of the journal Health Affairs.
The undiagnosed disease explains about one-third of the "healthy immigrant effect" for diabetes and one-fifth for high blood pressure. But even after undiagnosed disease is taken into account, recent immigrants are still healthier than native-born residents.
"Our findings show that Mexican immigrants to the United States are not as healthy as previously thought when undiagnosed disease—particularly diabetes—is taken in account," said James P. Smith, the study's senior author and a senior economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.
Co-authors of the study are Silvia Helena Barcellos of RAND and Dana Goldman of USC.
Past research has established the phenomena known as the health immigrant effect. Compared to native-born Americans, Mexican immigrants arriving in the United States report being in better health, although that advantage disappears the longer they stay in the United States.
One explanation for the healthy immigrant effect is that those who migrated to the United States, usually to seek employment, are more likely to be younger and healthy than the overall population. But since immigrants often arrive from countries that have poor access to health services, researchers wanted to examine whether immigrants might only report better health than the native born.
The RAND study was done by examining information for people aged 30 to 60 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the periods 1988 to 1994 and 1999 to 2008. The survey polls a large group of people nationally, assessing health status through comprehensive physical exams and laboratory tests in addition to asking participants about their health.
The study confirmed what has been shown by other studies—Mexican immigrants in the United States for fewer than five years report being in much better health on arrival than their native-born American counterparts. When the clinical examinations were considered, the gap between the two groups closed somewhat.
Immigrants who had been in the United States four years or less were about twice as likely to have undiagnosed diabetes as compared to those who had been in the country for 15 years or more. In total, 59 percent of recent Mexican immigrants who had diabetes were undiagnosed, as were 33 percent of those Mexican immigrants who had high blood pressure.
"A lack of disease awareness is clearly a serious problem among recent Mexican immigrants," said Barcellos, a RAND economist. "Our findings underscore the importance of screening recent immigrants for illnesses to avoid late diagnosis and any potential costs of delayed treatment."
The study found the prevalence of diabetes was higher among Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants than among native-born Americans who were not of Mexican descent, indicating that Mexicans generally have a higher risk for diabetes.
Journal reference: Health Affairs
Provided by RAND Corporation
- Anti-immigrant sentiment greater in California than Texas Mar 02, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Study: Few immigrants go to the doctor Feb 22, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Canada, US immigrants have less health care access than natives: study Sep 03, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Study looks at U.S. immigrant assimilation Oct 04, 2006 | not rated yet | 0
- Number of Mexican immigrants returning home dropped during latest recession, study finds Jul 13, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
Bed sharing with parents is linked to a fivefold increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), even when the parents are non-smokers and the mother has not been drinking alcohol and does not use illegal drugs, according ...
Health 10 hours ago | 1.3 / 5 (3) | 0
Doctors tell people with a heart-zapping device in their chests to give up intense sports like basketball and soccer in favor of golf or bowling. But lots of patients ignore that advice—and now new research is challenging ...
Health 10 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Little is known about the effect of physical education (PE) on child weight, but a new study from Cornell University finds that increasing the amount of time that elementary schoolchildren spent in gym class reduces the probability ...
Health 12 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Living near a major roadway during the prenatal period is associated with an increased risk of respiratory infection developing in children by the age of 3, according to a new study from researchers in Boston.
Health 14 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
People who are consistently exposed to both wood smoke and tobacco smoke are at a greater risk for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and for experiencing more frequent and severe symptoms of the disease, ...
Health 14 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Johns Hopkins researchers say they have discovered specific chemical alterations in two genes that, when present during pregnancy, reliably predict whether a woman will develop postpartum depression.
56 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Children who have suffered maltreatment are 36% more likely to be obese in adulthood compared to non-maltreated children, according to a new study by King's College London. The authors estimate that the prevention or effective ...
56 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—The decade-old law that transformed the battle against HIV and AIDS in developing countries is at a crossroads. The dream of future generations freed from the epidemic is running up against an era ...
39 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—A research team, led by Jeremy Barr, a biology post-doctoral fellow, unveils a new immune system that protects humans and animals from infection.
10 hours ago | 4.6 / 5 (13) | 4 |
New research suggests that a compound abundant in the Mediterranean diet takes away cancer cells' "superpower" to escape death. By altering a very specific step in gene regulation, this compound essentially re-educates cancer ...
13 hours ago | 4.8 / 5 (12) | 2 |
Early-life exposure to traffic-related air pollution was significantly associated with higher hyperactivity scores at age 7, according to new research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) and Cincinnati Children's Hospital ...
4 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |