Objectives: We compared the influence of the residential environment and maternal country of origin on birthweight and low birthweight of infants born to recent immigrants to urban Ontario.
Methods: We linked delivery records (1993-2000) to an immigration database (1993-1995) and small-area census data (1996). The data were analyzed with cross-classified random-effects models and standard multilevel methods. Higher-level predictors included 4 independent measures of neighborhood context constructed by factor analysis and maternal world regions of origin.
Results: Births (N = 22 189) were distributed across 1396 census tracts and 155 countries of origin. The associations between neighborhood indices and birthweight disappeared after we controlled for the maternal country of origin in a cross-classified multilevel model. Significant associations between world regions and birthweight and low birthweight persisted after we controlled for neighborhood context and individual characteristics.
Conclusions: The residential environment has little, if any, influence on birthweight among recent immigrants to Ontario. Country of origin appears to be a much more important factor in low birthweight among children of recent immigrants than current neighborhood. Findings of neighborhood influences among recent immigrants should be interpreted with caution.