Effects of US Acculturation and Obesity on Birth Outcomes in Latina Women [29I]

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Despite low socioeconomic status, immigrant Latinas have better-than-expected birth outcomes, which deteriorate with higher US acculturation - a phenomenon termed the Latina Acculturation Paradox. Given the rising rates of obesity amongst Latinas, we must examine the role of obesity in this paradox. This study evaluates the association of US acculturation with preterm birth and/or low birth weight (PTLBW) in a sample of Latina women in the context of obesity.


This was a prospective observational study. Participants were 1,062 pregnant women recruited from OB/GYN Clinics in California between 1999 and 2001. Women were of Mexican descent at varying lengths of US residency. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the odds ratios (ORs) of PTLBW in women by acculturation level, then among obese versus non-obese women.


Results demonstrated a significant association of US acculturation with PTLBW. The aOR for PTLBW in moderately acculturated women was 4.80 (P=.026), while low and highly acculturated women did not show an increased risk (P>.05). In moderately acculturated women who were also obese, odds of PTLBW decreased (aOR 0.11, P=.04), suggesting a buffering effect.


This study is unique in that it demonstrates a significant deviation from the paradox—the most highly acculturated women did not experience the worst outcomes. This is also among the first studies to demonstrate a buffering effect of obesity on the risk of PTLBW. This study prompts further investigation of both the effects of US acculturation and obesity on birth outcomes within the Latina population.

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