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Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005 Feb;159(2):158-65.

Does disadvantage start at home? Racial and ethnic disparities in health-related early childhood home routines and safety practices.

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Center for the Advancement of Underserved Children, Department of Pediatrics, Medical College of Wisconsin and Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53226, USA.



Little is known about whether racial/ethnic differences exist in household family activities, safety practices, and educational opportunities known to impact young children's healthy development and school success.


To examine whether racial/ethnic disparities exist in early childhood home routines, safety measures, and educational practices/resources.


The 2000 National Survey of Early Childhood Health is a telephone survey of a nationwide sample of parents of 2608 children aged 4 to 35 months. Differences in family activities, safety measures, and educational practices/resources were examined for white, black, and Hispanic children.


Minority children are less likely than white children to have consistent daily mealtimes and bedtimes, and more frequently never eat lunch or dinner with their family. Minority parents are less likely to install stair gates or cabinet safety locks and to turn down hot water settings. Minority parents less often read daily to their child, Hispanic parents more often never read to their child, and minority households average fewer children's books. Black children average more hours watching television daily. Disparities persisting in multivariate analyses included: minority children having increased odds of never eating lunch or dinner with their family, black children not having regular mealtimes (odds ratio, 1.8; 95% confidence interval, 1.2-2.7) and watching 1 more hour of television daily, black parents not installing cabinet locks, minority parents having twice the odds of not installing stair gates and not reading to their child daily, and minority homes having fewer children's books (black homes, -30; and Hispanic homes, -20). Children whose parents completed surveys in Spanish also experienced several disparities.


Young minority children experience multiple disparities in home routines, safety measures, and educational practices/resources that have the potential to impede their healthy development and future school success. Such disparities might be reduced or eliminated through targeted education and intervention by pediatric providers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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