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Child Dev. 2018 Mar;89(2):e1-e17. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12764. Epub 2017 Mar 21.

Associations Between Household Food Insecurity in Early Childhood and Children's Kindergarten Skills.

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Georgetown University.
University of Virginia.


Using nationally representative data on a recent birth cohort of U.S.-born children in low-income households (n = 2,800-3,700), this study investigates associations between the timing and intensity of early childhood food insecurity and children's kindergarten reading, math, and social-emotional outcomes. Descriptive patterns reveal that approximately 20% of low-income 0- to 5-year-old children reside in food-insecure households. Food insecurity experienced during early childhood is unfavorably associated with social-emotional outcomes in kindergarten, controlling for household income and prior assessments of child social-emotional skills. Results are less consistent for cognitive outcomes but similar in magnitude. If replicated, findings may inform policy efforts to reduce disparities in early skills for approximately 15 million U.S. children in food-insecure households.


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