‘Latino Paradox’ Partly Explains Improved Health Benefits for Hispanics Living in Enclaves, Editorial States
The question of why Hispanics living in ethnic enclaves, or highly segregated areas, have better overall health than those who do not is "part of a puzzle that epidemiologists have studied for decades: the Latino Paradox," a Houston Chronicle editorial states. Despite being apart from their home countries, foreign-born Hispanics for unknown reasons "enjoy longer lifespans, better mental health and higher birthweight babies than native-born" Hispanics, the editorial says.
A recent study published in the May issue of the American Journal of Public Health found that foreign-born Hispanics living in Chicago's ethnic enclaves have better overall health -- including lower asthma rates -- than those who do not live in such areas. According to the Chronicle, the average asthma rate for whites is 19%; 21% for blacks; and 22% for Hispanics living in non-Hispanic neighborhoods. However, foreign-born Hispanics living in Hispanic enclaves had an asthma rate of 5%.
Kathleen Cagney, who led the study, attributed the lower asthma rates to the individuals' comfort in their surroundings. "This translates into more friends sharing health tips, and more neighbors to take each other to the doctor," the Chronicle editorial states, adding that "outdoor socializing also gets residents away from indoor asthma triggers, such as cockroach leavings, dust mites and mildews." Residents of enclaves also reported high levels of trust in their community, which social scientists and epidemiologists say can lower stress and depression, as well as strengthen immune systems, the editorial says.
"So is the answer packing up and moving to a barrio? Not quite. The Latino Paradox is a complex phenomenon" in which researchers "still are teasing out its components," the editorial states (Houston Chronicle, 6/12).