Housing insecurity associated with poor health

Study finds housing insecurity is associated with poor health, lower weight, and development risk among young children

Dr. Diana Cutts, Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota was the lead author of a recent study that examined the association between housing insecurity and the health of very young children. Between 1998 and 2007, Dr. Cutts and her colleagues interviewed 22,069 low-income caregivers with children younger than 36 months who were seen in seven U.S. urban medical centers.  They evaluated food insecurity, child health status, developmental risk weight and housing insecurity for each child’s household. Crowding, defined as more than two people in a bedroom or more than one family in a residence, and multiple moves, defined as more than two moves within the previous year, were the two indicators used for housing insecurity. The researchers also found crowding and multiple moves to be associated with child food insecurity. In addition, multiple moves were associated with fair or poor child health, developmental risk, and lower weight-for-age scores.

“This research proves what we’re already seeing in our clinics,” explains Dr. Cutts. “We now have the data to back up our impression of the negative impact of housing stress on even the youngest children in terms of their poorer health, growth, and development. We simply do not have enough resources to help these families stabilize their households in adequate, affordable, and safe housing. Without the security of a home base upon which to build their lives, children show consequences that are potentially life-long.”

The study is published in the  American Journal of Public Health.

Hennepin County Medical Center is a Level I Adult Trauma Center and Level I Pediatric Trauma Center and public teaching hospital repeatedly recognized as one of America’s best hospitals by U.S. News & World Report.  The centerpiece of Hennepin County’s clinical health services, Hennepin County Medical Center offers a full spectrum of inpatient and outpatient pediatric care.