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Early Childhood Development and Children of Immigrant Families

  • Author / Creator
    Toosi, Ameneh
  • Mounting evidence indicates that early childhood experiences have lifetime consequences for adult functioning and therefore the wellbeing of societies. Early childhood life is also considered the most effective and cost-efficient time for preventing inequalities in human life. Despite the large numbers of international migrants and their children worldwide, as well as the growing interest in understanding and supporting optimal child development, there is little understanding about the early development of children in international migrant families and the factors that influence their development. The majority of research on children in international migrant families focused on risk behaviours in adolescence and outcomes related to the neonatal period with substantially less focus on early childhood development. As such, we do not understand if development of children in international migrant families is different and, if so, in what ways it differs from children from native-born families or factors that influence their development. Knowledge of international migrant children’s patterns of development and factors that influence their early life is necessary to inform policies and practices in order to ensure that this group of children has appropriate services and opportunities to support their early development and future opportunities. The aim of this thesis was two-fold. The first aim was to compare indices of early childhood development across key developmental domains (fine and gross motor, communication, problem solving, personal-social, social-emotional and behavioural problems and competencies) between children at two years of age who were born to foreign-born parents and their counterparts who were born to Canadian-born parents. The second aim of this thesis was to identify and compare factors associated with communication and social-emotional behavioural problems and competencies of early childhood development at two years of age for children who were born to foreign-born parents and their counterparts who were born to Canadian-born parents. Methods: This study used data from a prospective longitudinal pregnancy cohort study, the All Our Babies (AOB) study (n=3223; 2008-2011) in Alberta, to answer the research questions. We classified the eligible mother-child dyads who participated in the two year follow-up (n=1581) into two groups based on the parents’ country of birth: 1) children who were born to Canadian-born parents (n=1129, 73%) and 2) children who were born to families with at least one foreign-born parent (at least one of the parents had to have been born outside of Canada) (n=452, 27%). Analysis: The demographics of the children and their parents were described as frequencies and precentages for categorical variables and means (SD) for continuous variables. Bivariate analysis was used to assess differences in developmental score means and categories using independent sample T-tests and Chi Square tests, respectively, between children two years of age who were born to foreign-born parents and those born to Canadian-born parents. Unadjusted odds ratios were generated for each independent variable and outcome. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed to examine risk and protective factors of child development in each group. Results and conclusion: Children with foreign-born parents were more likely to need further assessment in communication (17%) with compared to those with Canadian-born parents (12.4%). They were also more likely to be at risk for social-emotional and behavioural problems (20.9%) and delay in social-emotional and behavioural competencies (18.9%) with compared to those with Canadian-born parents (12.6% and 11.1% respectively). Our findings suggest that the quality of stimulating activities in families with foreign-born parents differs from that of families with Canadian-born parents, which can influence the communication and emotional-social development of these children. Foreign-born parents may benefit from parenting supports to improve the quality of parenting practices. History of mental health issues was a universal risk factor for social-emotional delays in both groups. Addressing maternal mental health as a modifiable risk factor is warranted.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2017-06:Spring 2017
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3GT5FT3Z
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Faculty of Nursing
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Richter, Solina (Nursing)
    • Kingston, Dawn (Nursing, University of Calgary)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Bowen, Angela (Nursing, University of Saskatchawn)
    • Richter, Solina (Nursing)
    • Kingston, Dawn (Nursing, University of Calgary)
    • Norris, Colleen (Nursing)
    • Paul, Pauline (Nursing)
    • McDonald, Sheila (Paediatric, University of Calgary)