Pediatricians can help immigrant mothers by explaining child development, NICHD study suggests

Groups of immigrant mothers from Japan and South America knew less about child development than did their European American counterparts, according to a study by researchers at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health.

Such gaps in parenting knowledge, the authors wrote in the November issue of Pediatrics, could have a negative impact on children's development, with mothers possibly missing warning signs that their children need medical attention or early intervention services.

The authors added that pediatricians could assist parents who lack knowledge of child development by taking steps to educate them about the topic.

The study was conducted by Marc Bornstein, Ph.D., and Linda Cote, Ph.D., C.F.L.E., both of NICHD's Section on Child and Family Research.

The researchers pointed out, however, that the immigrant mothers knew as much about health practices concerning their children's physical safety as did the European American mothers.

"New parents have a need for accurate and helpful information about child development and pediatricians can help meet that need," said NICHD Director Duane Alexander, M.D. "In turn, parents who have an understanding of child development can provide pediatricians with information that will help them better serve pediatric patients."

In the article, the researchers wrote that study of child rearing practices among immigrants is extremely important because a large proportion of U.S. children come from immigrant families. The researchers cited a U.S. Census Bureau statistic that roughly 1 in 5 U.S. children, about 14 million in all, lives with at least 1 immigrant parent. The researchers added that they chose to study Asian and Latino mothers because those groups are currently the majority immigrant groups in the United States.

"Moreover, the Asian and Latino populations in the United States are expected to triple by mid-c

Contact: Robert Bock or Marianne Glass Miller
NIH/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

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