Poverty Hurts Kids' Growth, Development

BOSTON, April 20 (UPI) — The growth and development of children is hurt when they live in poverty — unstable housing and uncertain supplies of food and heat, U.S. researchers said.

Researchers at Boston Medical Center and colleagues at Children’s HealthWatch found the cumulative effects of poverty influence a child’s wellness, but study and interventions often ignore “material hardships” that can have health impacts on children.

Children’s HealthWatch researchers tracked 7,000 children ages 4 months to 36 months, waiting for care at one of five urban primary-care clinics or hospital emergency rooms.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found as scores on a cumulative index of the hardships increased, the odds of normal growth, health and development decreased.

“The current findings raise serious concerns about the future well-being of America’s young children, given rising poverty among families with young children and many households’ inadequate wages and benefits to meet fluctuating food, housing and energy costs,” lead author Dr. Deborah Frank, director of Boston Medical Center’s Grow Clinic, said in a statement. “We know that deprivations in early life can become biologically embedded, forcing children onto negative trajectories that jeopardize their health, their school readiness and their ability to earn a living as adults.”

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