Prenatal Practices among Various Cultures in the United States: How Acculturation May be Detrimental

By Antonio Jose Escobar, Karissa Nguyen, Mehgan Teherani, Farrell Tobolowsky, Jonathan Baik and Julia Borovay.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Immigrants to the United States differ in the degree to which they adhere to their traditional prenatal diet as they assimilate into the general American population. Prenatal care in the United States often emphasizes a recommended diet in addition to prenatal vitamins. Previous studies have shown that traditional ethnic dietary practices as well as social support systems can have positive effects on infant birth outcomes as measured by birth weights. Hispanic and Asian women immigrants to the U.S. who sustain culturally traditional practices, such as diet, tend to have lower rates of low birth-weight infants. Hispanic culture emphasizes a nutritious natural diet consisting of low-fat and high-protein homemade meals, and women who restrict food intake during pregnancy are often criticized. Many Asian Americans follow health practices based on the “hot-cold” belief system, which imputes innate metaphysical properties to substances, including food, that must be kept in balance for optimal health; during pregnancy, a balance of hot and cold foods is believed to prevent difficult labor. In addition to diet, social support in both cultures was often indicated to have an important impact on the health of mothers and infants. These findings suggest that sustaining and encouraging cultural dietary practices during pregnancy can lead to positive birth outcomes when implemented within a strong social network.

Keywords: Prenatal Practices, Social Support, Diet, Asian Immigrants, Hispanic Immigrants, United States

Global Studies Journal, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.15-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 618.970KB).

Antonio Jose Escobar

Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Karissa Nguyen

Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Mehgan Teherani

Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Farrell Tobolowsky

Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Jonathan Baik

Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Dr. Julia Borovay

Lecturer, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA


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