Data reveal that despite high levels of poverty, Mexican immigrants have relatively few low birth weight babies. This unusual pattern suggests that there are "protective" social factors mediating the effects of povertyperhaps especially family support. Our study, based on in-depth interviews with immigrant women in Chicago, finds that family support does protect some women from delivering a low birth weight infant but it does not protect women living in extreme poverty. Implications for services to Mexican immigrant women in childbearing years and their families are presented. These findings also speak to broad issues in social policy, especially the need for outreach and basic support to the very poor.

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