‘Worrying’ data links emigration to poor child health

September 19, 2022

2 minutes of reading

Source/Disclosures

Disclosures:
Ettinger de Cuba reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for the relevant financial disclosures of all other authors.


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Being kicked out is linked to increased odds of poor health for children and their parents, according to a study published in Pediatrics.

According to the findings, children who had been forced to move in the past 5 years were more likely to be in good or poor health, at risk for development, and were also more likely to be admitted to hospital from the emergency department.

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Co-author Stephanie Ettinger de Cuba, PhD, MPH, executive director of Children’s HealthWatch and assistant research professor at Boston University, told Healio that the project began with an interest in how evictions have affected “very young children” in the past decade, since the Great Recession of 2008.

“We felt there was a really important story of eviction among tenants and the ways in which that disruption affects all aspects of family life, including any other basic needs that are really important to a child’s healthy development, like utilities, and health care.” , child care and obviously housing,” Ettinger de Cuba said.

“The focus on young children really comes from the fact that children are in a sensitive period of development, with the fastest brain and body growth of their entire lives, and this really lays the foundation for future health and cognitive, social, emotional and motor skills .”

Ettinger de Cuba and colleagues surveyed 26,441 caregivers in tenant households in Baltimore, Boston, Little Rock, Arkansas; Philadelphia and Minneapolis and asked questions about family demographics and any child or adult difficulties. She said they also asked for details on eviction histories because court records often don’t include “informal” evictions that take place without a court case.

They found that 3.9% of their interviewees reported eviction of any kind in the previous 5 years, and of those evicted, 57% went through formal, legal eviction procedures, while an additional 43% faced informal eviction.

Children who experienced eviction had higher rates of social security and lower rates of breastfeeding history and were more likely to be in good or poor health (adjusted OR [aOR] = 1.43; 95% CI: 1.17–1.73) with developmental risk (aOR = 1.55; 95% CI: 1.32–1.82), or having been admitted to hospital from the emergency department (aOR = 1 .24; 95% CI: 1.01–1.53).

Children were also more likely to have moved multiple times or to have experienced household food insecurity, child food insecurity, energy insecurity, health care difficulties, or limited childcare.

“It challenges any assumption that children of this age can simply be protected [eviction], or that they are too young to experience the negative impacts of emigration,” said Ettinger de Cuba. “I think it really shows how vulnerable these young children and their families are to eviction and how there is the potential for a lot of long-term harm.” This is certainly a concern if you underestimate it.

The researchers conclude that robust policy solutions to prevent and mitigate eviction, as well as community, health care and other supports, are needed for families facing eviction to address the health impacts.

“Pediatricians and pediatric providers play a very important role in advocating for policy changes that will reduce the risk of families experiencing eviction and also obviously prevent harm to children’s health,” said Ettinger de Cuba.

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