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Paediatr Child Health. 2007 Oct;12(8):673-7.

Poverty during pregnancy: Its effects on child health outcomes.

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Departments of Pediatrics and Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec.


It is estimated that nearly 100,000 children are born into poverty each year in Canada. During pregnancy, their mothers are likely to face multiple stressful life events, including lone-mother and teenage pregnancies, unemployment, more crowded or polluted physical environments, and far fewer resources to deal with these exposures. The early child health consequences of poverty and pregnancy are multiple, and often set a newborn child on a life-long course of disparities in health outcomes. Included are greatly increased risks for preterm birth, intrauterine growth restriction, and neonatal or infant death. Poverty has consistently been found to be a powerful determinant of delayed cognitive development and poor school performance. Behaviour problems among young children and adolescents are strongly associated with maternal poverty. Sound evidence in support of policies and programs to reduce these disparities among the poor, including the role of health practitioners, is difficult to find. This is partly because many interventions and programs targeting the poor are not properly evaluated or critically appraised.


Child health; Poverty; Pregnancy; Review; Social paediatrics

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