Physical and mental health disparities among young children of Asian immigrants

J Pediatr. 2012 Feb;160(2):331-336.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2011.08.005. Epub 2011 Sep 9.


Objective: To examine physical and mental health functioning among Asian-American children of US-born and immigrant parents.

Study design: We used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999 base-year public data file. The sample was restricted to 7726 Asian and US-born white children. Asian subgroups were created based on parents' country of birth. Child physical and mental health was assessed based on multiple sources of data and measures. Analyses included multivariate linear and logistic regression.

Results: After adjusting for demographic and contextual differences, disparities were found for physical and mental health indicators. Children of foreign-born Asian families (from east, southeast, and south Asia) were at greater risk for poor physical health, internalizing problems, and inadequate interpersonal relationships compared with children of US-born white families.

Conclusion: There is little support for the "model minority" myth with regard to physical and mental health. Evidence of physical and mental health disparities among young Asian-American children and differing risk based on region of origin of immigrant parents suggests the need for culturally informed prevention efforts during early childhood.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group / ethnology
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / ethnology*
  • Child Behavior / psychology
  • Child Welfare / ethnology*
  • Child Welfare / psychology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data
  • Family / ethnology*
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Mental Health / ethnology*
  • Sampling Studies
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology