Heightened immigration enforcement has troubling impact on US citizen children

February 03, 2021

DURHAM, N.C. -- Harsher immigration law enforcement by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement leads to decreased use of prenatal care for immigrant mothers and declines in birth weight, according to new Duke University research.

In the study, published in PLOS ONE, researchers examine the effects of the federal 287(g) immigration program after it was introduced in North Carolina in 2006. Under 287(g) programs, which are still in effect, local law officers are deputized to act as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, with authority to question individuals about immigration status, detain them, and if necessary, begin deportation proceedings.

According to the study findings, the 2006 policy change reduced birth weight by an average of 58.54 grams. It also resulted in more births of babies who were small for their gestational age. Those births rose by 2.29 percentage points.

In addition, immigrant parents used less prenatal care, meaning they either did not see a health care provider in the first trimester or missed at least half of their recommended prenatal visits.

"There are economic costs to adverse birth outcomes, both for children involved and to society," said Marcos Rangel, co-author of the study and professor of public policy at Duke University's Center for Child and Family Policy. "The recent uptick in ICE activities under the Trump administration may have long-lasting, harmful effects on U.S.-born citizens."

The study is believed to be the first to examine how the 287(g) program affects infant health. Using administrative data from 2004 to 2006, researchers examined birth and maternal health outcomes for immigrant mothers residing in Mecklenburg County before and after the 287(g) program was implemented. They then compared the Mecklenburg data with similar statistics in counties that did not adopt the programs. Mecklenburg is home to the state's largest city, Charlotte.

The researchers did not identify why immigrant women used less prenatal care. However, the authors suggest that fear may be one motivation.

"If going to the doctor means you might run into ICE, maybe you don't go," said Christina Gibson-Davis, professor of public policy and sociology. "It wasn't the intention of the policy, but pregnant women not getting adequate prenatal care is worrying."

To understand the magnitude of the effects, the researchers compared their findings to the benefits of participating in programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

"The adverse effects of the 287(g) program essentially counteracted the beneficial effects of participating in SNAP or WIC," said Romina Tome, an economics researcher at American Institutes for Research and a recent Ph.D. graduate of Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy. "Exposure to policies during pregnancy can either be harmful or hurtful. These ICE policies appear to be harmful."
This research was supported by the M.R. & C.G.D. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Duke University

Related Birth Weight Articles from Brightsurf:

Genes may play a role in weight gain from birth control
A woman's genetic make-up may cause her to gain weight when using a popular form of birth control, according to a study from researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Commercial weight management groups could support women to manage their weight after giving birth
Women who were overweight at the start of their pregnancy would welcome support after they have given birth in the form of commercial weight management groups, University of Warwick-led research has found.

Heavier birth weight linked to childhood allergies
New research shows that the more a baby weighs at birth relative to its gestational age the higher the risk they will suffer from childhood food allergy or eczema, although not hay fever.

Weight-loss surgery cuts risk of birth defects
Children born to women who underwent gastric bypass surgery before becoming pregnant had a lower risk of major birth defects than children born to women who had severe obesity at the start of their pregnancy.

Study develops updated national birth weight reference
A new paper provides an updated national birth weight reference for the United States using the most recent, nationally representative birth data.

How both mother and baby genes affect birth weight
The largest study of its kind has led to new insights into the complex relationships surrounding how mothers' and babies' genes influence birth weight.

Keeping very low birth weight babies warm
UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospitals made its NICU a center of excellence for increasing the admission body temperature of their very low birth weight babies to greater than 36 degrees.

Is state medicaid expansion associated with changes in low birth weight, preterm births?
This observational study examined whether state Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act was associated with changes in low birth weight and preterm birth both overall and by race/ethnicity.

Steroid treatment for premature babies linked to low birth weight
Steroid injections given to mothers at risk of giving birth prematurely are linked to babies being born with lower body weights.

Medically assisted reproduction does not raise risk of preterm birth and low birth weight
Study shows that couples can decide about using medically assisted reproduction free from concerns about increasing the health risks to their baby.

Read More: Birth Weight News and Birth Weight Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.