In Ontario’s poorest neighbourhoods, newborns of non-refugee immigrant mothers face a lower risk of serious illness and death than those born to Canadian-born mothers, according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on Monday.
Both immigration status and living in a low-income neighbourhood are associated with worse outcomes for newborns, write researchers from the University of Toronto, two Toronto hospitals, the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
However, while previous research has looked at the risk of adverse outcomes for newborns in low- versus high-income neighbourhoods, the study’s authors said it has overlooked the comparative risks for babies born to immigrant and non-immigrant parents living in similar low-income neighbourhoods.
“Efforts should be aimed at improving the overall health and well-being of all females residing in low-income areas, and at determining if the risk of adverse birth outcomes can be equitably reduced among immigrant and non-immigrant groups,” wrote co-author Jennifer Jairam.
To compare the risk of severe neonatal illness and death in immigrant- and non-immigrant-born infants, researchers looked at data on all live, in-hospital births of single babies from 20 to 42 weeks’ gestation between 2002 and 2019 in Ontario.