Refugee Births and the Migrant Health Effect in Syracuse NY

Gretchen Goble, Margaret Formica, Sandra D. Lane, Michaela Sous, Caroline Stroup, Robert A. Rubinstein, Andrea Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: In Syracuse, NY among 5998 births in a 3-year period (2017–2019), 24% were to foreign-born women, among whom nearly 5% were refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia. The impetus for the study was to identify potential risk factors and birth outcomes of refugee women, other foreign-born women, and US born women to inform care. Methods: This study reviewed 3 years of births (2017–2019) in a secondary database of births in Syracuse, New York. Data reviewed included maternal demographics, natality, behavioral risk factors (e.g., drug use, tobacco use), employment, health insurance, and education. Results: In a logistic regression model controlling for race, education, insurance status, employment status, tobacco use and illicit drug use, compared to US born mothers, refugees (OR 0.45, 95% CI 0.24–0.83) and other foreign born (OR 0.63, 95% CI 0.47–0.85) had significantly fewer low birth weight births. Conclusion: The results of this study supported the “healthy migrant effect,” a concept that refugees have fewer low birth weight (LBW) births, premature births, and cesarean section deliveries than US born women. This study adds to the literature on refugee births and the healthy migrant effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1599-1606
Number of pages8
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • Childbirth
  • Healthy migrant effect
  • Refugee health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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