Researchers in Minneapolis have found that stressful housing conditions can have life-long effects on very young children.
A study published in June in the American Journal of Public Health looked at more than 22,000 families with children under three. The study found that kids who experience housing insecurity are more likely to suffer poor health and impaired development later in life.
Hennepin County Medical Center pediatrician and University of Minnesota professor Dr. Diana Cutts said kids are affected by poor housing conditions.
"They are really not spared the effects," she said. "These are not just babies who you bundle up and move to the next place and they are immune to the consequences of this kind of experience. They are not immune and there are consequences, even for the youngest kids."
Cutts said overcrowding and multiple housing moves were found to be major risk factors for poor child health, and development. Those factors combine with the likelihood that children in unstable home situations are also more likely to go hungry.
"For kids who were in situations where they were crowded or doubled up they did have a much greater risk of being food insecure," Cutts said. "Which ... carries a lot of health risk with it in terms of just general health and in terms of developmental outcome," Cutts said.
The negative effects of housing stress can last through children's lives, according to the study.