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Prenatal and Postnatal Homelessness Increases Risk to Children's Health, Development

9/3/2018

There is no safe time for a child to be homeless, while in the womb or during early development. Both were associated with a significantly higher number of hospitalizations and worse health than those families that had never been homeless, according to a new Pediatrics study. The study, “Timing and Duration of Pre- and Postnatal Homelessness and the Health of Young Children,” will be published in the October 2018 Pediatrics (Sept. 3 online). Researchers interviewed 20,571 caregivers, some of whom reported being homelessness prenatally; others who were homeless only postnatally; and a group that reported being homeless before and after giving birth. Children who were in the prenatally homeless group were significantly more likely to have been hospitalized since birth and were in fair or poor health compared to those whose mothers had never been homeless. Children who were in the postnatally homeless group shared the same adverse effects and had higher developmental risks. The authors found that the earlier and longer the duration of homelessness, the greater the toll it took on a child’s health and development, which can have long-lasting effects.

Editor’s Note: A solicited commentary, “Addressing Family Homelessness in Pediatrics: Progress and Possibility,” will also be published in the same issue of Pediatrics.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds