ABSTRACT

Increasing interest in the health status of Hispanics in the United States has arisen due to the extraordinary growth of this group. During the past decade, the Hispanic population has increased at a rate of 39% as compared to less than an 8% increase in non-Hispanic whites. By the year 2000, the U.S. Hispanic population is expected to reach 31 million, which will make Hispanics the largest ethnic group in the country (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990). High birthrates and immigration account for the rapid Hispanic population growth in the United States. Compared with the fertility rate of the general population (65 births per 1,000 females), Hispanics have a higher fertility rate (97 births per 1,000 females), give birth to children at younger ages, and have more children (COSSMHO, 1988). Despite the rapid growth of the Hispanic population, limited epidemiological data exist on this ethnic group. Most epidemiological data on Hispanics have been compiled primarily from the 1982–1984 Hispanic Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (HHANES) of the National Center for Health Statistics.