RESIDENTIAL OPTIONS

Abigail L Gaylord, MPH, Whitney J Cowell, MPH, Lori A Hoepner, DrPH,
Frederica P Perera, DrPH, PhD, Virginia A Rauh, ScD, and Julie B Herbstman, PhD, Alexandra Jurewitz, JD, MPH 

Colin Crawford PhD

Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, USA

Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, USA
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, SUNY Downstate Medical Center School of
Public Health, New York, USA
Heilbrunn Department of Population & Family Health, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health,
New York, USA

Impact on Housing Instability on Child Behavior at Age 7 Years 

Housing instability is thought to be a major influence on children’s healthy growth and development. However, little is known about the factors that influence housing instability, limiting the identification of effective interventions. The goals of this study were to 1) explore factors, including material hardship, satisfaction with living conditions, and housing disrepair, that predict housing instability (total number of moves that a child experienced in the first seven years of life); and 2) examine the relationship between housing instability and child behavior at age 7 years, measured by the Child Behavior Checklist. We analyzed these associations among children enrolled in the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) Mothers and Newborns study. In our analysis, we found that housing disrepair predicted residential change after three years of age, but not before. Persistent material hardship over the seven-year time period from pregnancy
through age 7 years was associated with an increased number of moves. Children who experienced more than three moves had significantly more thought- and attention-related problems compared to children who experienced fewer than three moves over the same time period. Children who
experienced more than three moves also had higher total and internalizing problem behavior scores, although these differences were not statistically significant. We conclude that housing instability is associated with problem behavior related to thought and attention in early childhood and that interventions to reduce socioeconomic strain may have the greatest impact in breaking the cycle of children’s environmental health disparities related to housing instability.

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