Close-knit ethnic neighborhoods may allow foreign-born Latinos to breathe a little easier, according to a new study.

When it comes to the development of asthma or other respiratory problems, “living in an ethnic enclave appears to be protective. It’s good for your health,” said the study’s lead author, Kathleen Cagney, PhD.

Cagney, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago, and colleagues combined data from three census and community surveys of US – and foreign-born whites, African-Americans and Latinos. The Chicago-based study participants noted whether they had ever been diagnosed with asthma or other respiratory problems. Respondents also answered questions about their socioeconomic status and characteristics of their local neighborhoods.

The study appears in the May issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Overall, about 18% of all respondents reported asthma diagnoses or other respiratory problems.

However, compared to other ethnic groups at the same socioeconomic level, foreign-born Latinos experienced much lower rates of asthma—about 5%—when they resided in neighborhoods with a high percentage of foreign-born residents.