The health of migrant children in Switzerland

Int J Public Health. 2012 Aug;57(4):659-71. doi: 10.1007/s00038-012-0375-8. Epub 2012 Jun 15.


Objective: Over 22 % of children and adolescents living in Switzerland have a migrant background. The aim of this systematic literature review is to give an overview of health needs of paediatric migrants in Switzerland.

Methods: Three databases (Embase, Medline, Global health) were systematically searched for quantitative primary research on the health outcomes of migrant minors (<18-year old) in Switzerland, including articles published since 2000 in French, German, Italian or English. Citation chasing and search of non-indexed literature was also performed.

Results: Thirty publications were identified. Compared to their Swiss peers, migrant children had higher hospitalisation (+40 %) and intensive care admission rates, more dental cavities, twice the odds of being obese, and migrant adolescents seemed more frequently affected by psychological problems and twice as often requesting abortions. Certain infectious diseases (tuberculosis, intestinal parasites, H. pylori infection, Hepatitis A) were more prevalent. Increased neonatal and infant mortality rates were found in Turkish and African babies.

Conclusion: Children of migrants may have distinct health needs. They should benefit from migrant paediatric care and health promotion activities that recognise these.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Switzerland
  • Transients and Migrants*