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Keywords:

  • maquiladora work;
  • women on the U.S.-Mexico border;
  • occupational health;
  • electronics workers;
  • garment workers;
  • pregnancy;
  • birthweight

Abstract

Maquiladoras are plants on the Mexican side of the United States-Mexico border which are used largely by U.S. manufacturers to assemble premanufactured parts. We examined reproductive outcomes of women employed in electronics (N = 120) and garment (N = 121) maquiladora work compared to women employed in the service sector (N = 119) in Tijuana. Mexico. Women recruited by community health workers were interviewed about their reproductive history, sociodemographic characteristics, health behaviors, and characteristics of their current job. Length of regular menstrual cycle in the past year as well as time of conception and rates of fetal loss in the most recent pregnancy were similar across occupational groups. However, infants of garment maquiladora workers were 653 g lighter (95% confidence interval [CI]: −1,041 g, −265 g) and infants of electronic maquiladora workers were 337 g lighter (95% CI: −682 g. 9 g) than infants of service workers after adjusting for potential confounders. The cause of these differences remains unclear. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.