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More Developmental Risk Among Children of Undocumented Parents

August 5th 2009

Mexican children with undocumented parents have a greater developmental risk than Latino or white children with documented or U.S. citizen parents, according to a recent study.
By Alfi Fernandez

Mexican children with undocumented parents have a greater developmental risk than LAtino or white children with documented or U.S. citizen parents, according to a recent study released by the University of California at Los Angeles.

The study looked at 5,856 children under six from every California county. Among them 1,786 had Mexican ancestry.

Researchers found that Mexican children with undocumented parents had a higher probability of parent-reported developmental risk.

“In the United States, nearly 4.9 million or 25 percent of children younger than five years old are Latino, which makes them the largest group of young minority children," said Alexander Ortega, a psychiatry professor at UCLA and co-author of the study, reported US Fed News. "That's huge. With Mexicans as the vast majority of Latino children - 64 percent - understanding their health, well-being and the development of Mexican children is critical, given future U.S. demographic changes."

Due to insufficient studies, little is known about the cause for concern, but some studies have underlined that immigrant children tend to have more learning difficulties and behavioral problems than white, non-immigrant children.

“From the survey, it's difficult to know the extent to which elevated reports of developmental problems for children with undocumented parents are due to actual differences in development versus an unmet need of parents,” said Ortega, according to US Fed News. “In general, parents need reassurance from pediatric care providers about the typical development of their children. We know the undocumented have significant problems for access to healthcare, so parents may have certain expectations of development that are shaping their concerns.”