Suburban migration and the birth outcome of chicago-born white and african-american women: the merit of the healthy migrant theory?

Collins, J. W., Jr.; Rankin, K. M.; Janowiak, C. M.

Matern Child Health J. 2012 Oct 16; 17(9):1559-66

Abstract

The healthy migrant theory posits that women who migrate before pregnancy are intrinsically healthier and therefore have better birth outcomes than those who don't move. Objective. To determine whether migration to the suburbs is associated with lower rates of preterm (<37 weeks) birth among Chicago-born White and African-American mothers. We performed stratified and multilevel logistic regression analyses on an Illinois transgenerational dataset of non-Latino White and African-American infants (1989-1991) and their mothers (1956-1976) with appended US census income information. Forty percent of Chicago-born White mothers (N = 45,135) migrated to Suburban Cook County and 30 % migrated to the more geographically distant collar counties. In contrast, 10 % of Chicago-born African-American mothers (N = 41,221) migrated to Suburban Cook and only two percent migrated to the collar counties. Chicago-born White and African-American migrant mothers to Suburban Cook County had lower preterm birth rates than their non-migrant counterparts; RR = 0.8 (0.8-0.9) and 0.8 (0.7-0.8), respectively. When neighborhood income was singularly taken into account, the protective association of suburban migration and preterm birth disappeared among Chicago-born Whites. In race-specific multilevel multivariate regression models which included neighborhood income, the adjusted odds ratio of preterm birth, low birth weight, and small for gestational-age for Chicago-born White and African-American migrant (compared to non-migrant) mothers approximated unity. Neighborhood income underlies the protective association of suburban migration and birth outcome among Chicago-born White and African-American mothers. These findings do not support the healthy migrant hypothesis of reproductive outcome.

Read More on PubMed