Background — We delved into the selective migration hypothesis on health by comparing birth outcomes of Latin American immigrants giving birth in two receiving countries with dissimilar immigration admission policies: Canada and Spain. We hypothesized that a stronger immigrant selection in Canada will reflect more favourable outcomes among Latin Americans giving birth in Canada than among their counterparts giving birth in Spain.
Materials and Methods — We conducted a cross-sectional bi-national comparative study. We analyzed birth data of singleton infants born in Canada (2000-2005) (N = 31,767) and Spain (1998-2007) (N = 150,405) to mothers born in Spanish-speaking Latin American countries. We compared mean birthweight at 37-41 weeks gestation, and low birthweight and preterm birth rates between Latin American immigrants to Canada vs. Spain. Regression analysis for aggregate data was used to obtain Odds Ratios and Mean birthweight differences adjusted for infant sex, maternal age, parity, marital status, and father born in same source country.
Results — Latin American women in Canada had heavier newborns than their same-country counterparts giving birth in Spain, overall [adjusted mean birthweight difference: 101 grams; 95% confidence interval (CI): 98, 104], and within each maternal country of origin. Latin American women in Canada had fewer low birthweight and preterm infants than those giving birth in Spain [adjusted Odds Ratio: 0.88; 95% CI: 0.82, 0.94 for low birthweight, and 0.88; 95% CI: 0.84, 0.93 for preterm birth, respectively].
Conclusion — Latin American immigrant women had better birth outcomes in Canada than in Spain, suggesting a more selective migration in Canada than in Spain.
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Social determinants of health
Ethnicity and culture