Study leader Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest, a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University and colleagues at the University of Chicago, said although immigrants make up less than 13 percent of the total U.S. population, children of immigrants make up 22 percent of all children and 30 percent of low-income U.S. children.
Since most children in immigrant families were born in the United States, they are U.S. citizens and are eligible for government assistance yet they differ in the extent to which they have health insurance and have a regular doctor, Ziol-Guest said.
The researchers analyzed nationally representative data on more than 46,000 low-income children age 18 and under from the 1996, 2001, 2004, and 2008 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation, a Census Bureau survey.
The study, published in the journal Child Development, said low-income children of immigrants have significantly poorer health and see doctors and dentists fewer times than low-income, native-born children. Children with at least one non-permanent resident parent have the poorest health and are least likely to visit a doctor or a dentist compared to all other children, the study said.