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Am J Public Health. 2011 Aug;101(8):1508-14. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300139. Epub 2011 Jun 16.

US Housing insecurity and the health of very young children.

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Department of Pediatrics, Diana Becker Cutts, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN 55415, USA.



We investigated the association between housing insecurity and the health of very young children.


Between 1998 and 2007, we interviewed 22,069 low-income caregivers with children younger than 3 years who were seen in 7 US urban medical centers. We assessed food insecurity, child health status, developmental risk, weight, and housing insecurity for each child's household. Our indicators for housing insecurity were crowding (> 2 people/bedroom or>1 family/residence) and multiple moves (≥ 2 moves within the previous year).


After adjusting for covariates, crowding was associated with household food insecurity compared with the securely housed (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.30; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.18, 1.43), as were multiple moves (AOR = 1.91; 95% CI = 1.59, 2.28). Crowding was also associated with child food insecurity (AOR = 1.47; 95% CI = 1.34, 1.63), and so were multiple moves (AOR = 2.56; 95% CI = 2.13, 3.08). Multiple moves were associated with fair or poor child health (AOR = 1.48; 95% CI =1.25, 1.76), developmental risk (AOR 1.71; 95% CI = 1.33, 2.21), and lower weight-for-age z scores (-0.082 vs -0.013; P= .02).


Housing insecurity is associated with poor health, lower weight, and developmental risk among young children. Policies that decrease housing insecurity can promote the health of young children and should be a priority.

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