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Pregnancy complications may be more common in immigrants from certain regions

an adjunct scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. "But when caught early, it's easier to manage. That's why it's so important to identify these high-risk groups."

While it's not known why some immigrant groups had higher rates than others, even in their home countries Sub-Saharan Africans exhibit the highest rates of preeclampsia and eclampsia worldwide. It's possible that immigrants may carry higher susceptibility even after arriving in their new country.

Using each country's most recently available birthing data, researchers analyzed more than nine million births more than a third of which were to immigrant women. Immigrants were divided into regions of origin:

  • Latin America and the Caribbean islands

  • Middle East

  • Western Europe

  • Eastern Europe

  • East Asia

  • Southeast Asia

  • North Africa

  • Sub-Saharan Africa

Not all immigrants groups had increased rates of preeclampsia or eclampsia, however. Immigrant women from regions of the world such as East Asia, Southeast Asia, North Africa and the Middle East seem to be at lower risk of developing preeclampsia than native-born women and Eastern Europe women are at lower odds of developing eclampsia.

"It's also important to note that differences exist even within these regional groupings," said Dr. Urquia. "In Ontario, for example, Caribbean and Central American women had greater risk than South Americans who had similar rates to Canadian-born women."

Western European immigrants acted as a control group for the study -- a population that had endured the immigrant experience but ethnically most resembles those born in the native countries.

"We need to look more at factors affecting immigrant health," said Dr. Urquia. "Future research should continue to look at global evidence."

Contact: Geoff Koehler
416-864-6060 x6537
St. Michael's Hospital

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