Infant Health for Arab and Non-Arab Mothers Identifying as White, Black, or Other in Massachusetts

Nadia N. Abuelezam, Adolfo G. Cuevas, Abdulrahman M. El-Sayed, Sandro Galea, Summer Sherburne Hawkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: This study quantifies the differences in infant outcomes by mother's self-identified race among Arab Americans and by self-identified race and ethnicity for Arabs and non-Arabs. Methods: This study used data from the Standard Certificate of Live Birth on 8,204 infants born to Arab and 325,354 infants born to non-Arab mothers between 2012 and 2016 in Massachusetts; data were analyzed between 2019 and 2020. Mothers’ race was categorized as White, Black, or Other. Mothers’ ethnicity was categorized as Arab or non-Arab. Outcomes included birth weight, preterm birth, low-birth weight, small for gestational age, and large for gestational age. Linear and logistic regression models assessed the association between race and infant health outcomes. Results: Black Arab mothers had higher odds of preterm birth (AOR=1.37, 95% CI=1.07, 1.76) and low-birth weight (AOR=1.35, 95% CI=0.99, 1.84) than White Arab mothers. Arab mothers who self-identified as Other had babies that were 51.4 grams lighter than babies born to White Arab mothers. White Arab mothers had higher odds of low birth weight (AOR=1.19, 95% CI=1.06, 1.34) and small-for-gestational-age babies (AOR=1.22, 95% CI=1.11, 1.36) but lower odds of large-for-gestational-age babies (AOR=0.77, 95% CI=0.70, 0.86) than White non-Arab mothers. Conclusions: Both ethnicity and race are important determinants of the health of Arab American infants. Arab ethnicity may play a negative role in the infant health of Arab Americans who identify as White. A better understanding of the lived experiences of Arab American mothers, with regard to their racial and ethnic identity, may help better inform clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-71
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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