Babies born in Ontario to mothers from the Philippines have significantly lower birth weights than those whose mothers were born in Canada or elsewhere in East Asia and are twice as likely to be classified as small for their gestational age, a new study has found.
The classification is often incorrect, researchers say, because the babies are being compared to those of other ethnic backgrounds. When compared to other Filipino babies, they are well within appropriate heights and weights.
The lead author of the study, published online in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, is Leanne De Souza, a PhD candidate working with Dr. Joel Ray, an obstetrical medicine physician at St. Michael's Hospital. Dr. Ray and his colleagues previously developed the first "newborn weight curves" for specific ethnic groups across Canada.
Birthweight curves are graphs used to plot how one baby's weight compares to others of the same age. A baby whose birthweight is below the lowest tenth percentile of the curve is deemed to be "small for gestational age" or SGA. These babies may be at higher risk for developmental issues, lower cognitive functions, short stature and even death.
In developing the customized weight curves, they found that babies born to mothers from each region of the world, except Europe and other Western countries, had significantly lower birthweights than those for infants of Canadian-born mothers.
This study looks specifically at babies of mothers born in one Asian country, the Philippines. East Asians are the fastest-growing immigrant group in Canada and those from the Philippines form the second-largest subgroup of these immigrants.