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Home Industry News Women moving to UK ‘develop worse health behaviours’

Women moving to UK ‘develop worse health behaviours’

11th April 2008

Women who immigrate to the UK develop worse health behaviours the longer they live in the country, research suggests today.

A study published on bmj.com says that the longer ethnic minority women live in the UK the more likely they are to smoke during pregnancy or give up breastfeeding early.

Researchers from the University College London’s Institute of Child Health compared smoking and alcohol consumption during pregnancy and after birth between British/Irish white mothers and mothers from ethnic minority groups.

Nearly 6,500 British/Irish white mothers and over 2,100 mothers from ethnic minority groups were questioned about their maternal health behaviours, generational status and length of residency in the UK.

The results showed that compared with British/Irish white mothers, mothers from ethnic minority groups were less likely to smoke or consume alcohol during pregnancy, and were more likely to start breast feeding and breast feed for at least four months.

But for every additional five years spent in the UK, immigrant mothers were 32 per cent more likely to smoke during pregnancy and five per cent less likely to breast feed for at least four months.

The researchers say their findings support the argument that national policies should promote beneficial health behaviours among all mothers.

They add: “As families settle in the UK it will be important to support the maintenance of healthy behaviours among women, their daughters, and future generations.

“Intention to breast feed also varies with acculturation, suggesting the need for interventions before or early in pregnancy.”

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