This research examined VLFS in children among households with foreign-born (FB) mothers compared to US-born mothers through three research questions: Is mother’s foreign-born status (FBS) associated with VLFS in children, and can association be explained by mothers’ socio-demographic characteristics? Are FB mothers more or less likely to receive nutrition or non-nutrition assistance benefits, or work for pay than US-born mothers? Do mothers’ FBS, or protective/risk factors associated with FBS, modify associations of negative economic shocks and hardships with VLFS in children? Data are on approximately 44,000 mother-child (ages<48 Mos.) dyads collected from household surveys administered under a "sentinel surveillance" system over 1998-2012 at teaching hospitals and clinics in seven US cities. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression models tested study hypotheses. Mothers' FBS is strongly positively associated with VLFS in children after controlling for available risk and protective factors. FB mothers are less likely to receive SNAP and non-nutrition assistance (TANF, LIHEAP or housing subsidies), but more likely to receive WIC and to be employed than US-born mothers. FB mothers are no more likely to report negative reasons for not receiving SNAP or TANF, or losing jobs or decreasing work hours than US-born, and reported "immigration concerns" rarely. No need/chose not to participate are most frequently reported reasons for not receiving SNAP and TANF; pregnancy/maternity leave and "market conditions" for lost jobs and decreased work hours. Economic shocks and hardships are positively associated with VLFS in children, but Mothers' FBS does not interact with shocks and hardships to modify those associations.

Document Type

Research Paper

Publication Date


Discussion Paper Number

DP 2013-09

Notes/Citation Information

This project was supported with a grant from the University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research through funding by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, contract number AG-3198-B-10-0028. The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the author(s) and should not be construed as representing the opinions or policies of the UKCPR or any agency of the Federal Government.