Children of immigrants face many challenges compared to their native peers, and one of them could be greater health risks. More specifically, children of Mexican immigrants tend to experience more health problems while living in the U.S. than any other immigrant group, according to a July 2013 report by the Migration Policy Institute.
Mexican immigrants children in particular are more likely to experience health challenges because of limited healthcare access and health education, the report explains. Asthma complications and obesity can be the result of inadequate resources.
Other factors also increase the chance of health problems for this immigrant child group, such as limited English proficiency, low socioeconomic status, high levels of food insecurity, and unauthorized legal status.
The report found that immigrant children generally have healthy starts to life, which includes fewer occurrences of low birth weight and lower infant mortality. However, by early and middle childhood, children of immigrants no longer have better health outcomes than native children.
Early childhood is a critical time of life that can help pave the way for future health challenges, the report added. For instance, toxic environmental exposure and lack of nutrition early on can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension during the adult years.
The report concludes by saying that the experiences and needs of all immigrant children should be addressed to avoid wider health disparities with their native peers in the future. In addition, Mexican immigrants are of greatest concern because they constitute the third largest group of immigrants in the U.S. and also face more serious health risks.
The Migration Policy Institute is a research organization that dedicates much of its research to the study of the movement of people around the world. It analyzes migration policy at the local, national and international levels.