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Bender, Deborah E. & Castro, Dina (2000). Explaining the Birth Weight Paradox: Latina Immigrants' Perceptions of Resilience and Risk. Journal of Immigrant Health, 2(3), 155-173.


In the US, prenatal care is positively associated with improved birth outcomes. However, among Mexican-born Latinos, rates of low birth weight are lower than those of US-born counterparts despite the fact that recently arrived Latino immigrants are less likely to have received adequate prenatal care. The "birth weight paradox," identified through analysis of the HHANES, appears to hold constant across variations in age, marital status or educational attainment. The authors explore Latina immigrant's perceptions of resilience factors related to these better birth outcomes through focused group interviews, photonarratives, and documentation of local kin networks. The women's responses are grouped into five resilience factors and one risk complex that have the potential to further explain the HHANES findings. Women's responses, the stories of their photographs, and kin networks are presented. Knowledge of these protective and risk factors can be useful to health professionals and Latino advocacy groups in the design of community-based interventions that protect health status and promote the practice of protective health behaviors within immigrant families and communities.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Immigrant Health


Bender, Deborah E.
Castro, Dina