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A new study says Latino kids in states with more anti-immigrant laws are in poorer health

The study found that Latinos from 3 to 17 in states with more discriminatory laws are more susceptible to having certain physical and mental health conditions.

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According to a study published Tuesday, August 15 in the medical journal Pediatrics, Latino children living in states with more anti-immigrant and discriminatory laws and policies, as well as the resulting inequities in access were linked to higher odds of certain physical or mental health conditions. 

Researchers analyzed data from the National Survey of Children’s Health from a four-year period from 2016 to 2020. They measured 17,855 Latino children participants from 3 to 17 years old and found nearly 30% lived below the federal poverty level and a little over half were from an immigrant family.

Latino children living in states that enforced more of these policies and attitudes were found to be 1.13 times more likely to have a chronic physical health condition and 1.24 times more likely to have multiple mental health conditions.

The surveyed caregivers for the purposes of the survey provided information on children’s physical and mental health issues, including allergies, asthma, blood disorders, diabetes and heart conditions, as well as depression, anxiety and behavioral and conduct issues.

Researchers also analyzed nationally representative data on 17,855 Latino children ages 3-17 years, including those born in and outside the United States. Almost 30% lived below the federal poverty level and just over half were from an immigrant family.

The researchers ranked a state’s discrimination level in the form of taking in consideration policies toward immigrants, including health services, employment, immigration policy enforcement, discrimination prohibition, and access to rental housing , driver's licenses and higher education. 

In a similar study published in Pediatrics, Dr. Nathalia Jimenez, an associate professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said, “At the societal level, this study provides further evidence that immigrant policy is health policy.”

According to a recent U.S. Census study, a quarter of children in the U.S. are of Hispanic or Latino descent.

Notably, researchers wrote that families who were the most at-risk may not have been surveyed.

Prejudicial attitudes toward immigrants and Latinos using data from the American National Election Study were also included. 

“This study underscores the importance of addressing the health impacts of state laws as well as the effects of public attitudes that perpetuate racist and/or anti-immigrant sentiments, all of which influence access to opportunities and resources that promote healthy development,” the authors said in the report.

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