Objectives: The influx of Southeast Asians into the United States allows for the study of this special population and contributes to a broader understanding of reproductive health.
Methods: We used information on birth certificates to identify 1937 Hmong children born 1985 through 1988 in California, and we compared birthweight and reproductive factors as related to these children with the same factors as related to 3776 White, non-Hispanic children born in the same period.
Results: Mean birthweight among Hmong children (3311 g) was significantly lower (P less than .05) than among White children (3452 g), but the proportion of births under 1500 g was higher for Whites. Hmong women were of much higher parity and were more likely to deliver at both a young (less than 18 years) and an old (greater than 40 years) maternal age. At every age and every parity, however, Hmong women had cesarean sections at one-half to one-tenth the rate of White women.
Conclusions: Despite a high proportion of births at high parity and advanced maternal age, Hmong women gave birth to very low-birthweight babies at essentially the same rates as White women. Their lower cesarean section rates, however, deserve further attention.