Addressing family homelessness in pediatrics: Progress and possibility
Homelessness during pregnancy or childhood should be unthinkable in a society that treats children and families with dignity. Sandel et al. provide new evidence from 5 cities on just how damaging homelessness in pregnancy and early childhood are to child health. Their study, “Timing and Duration of Pre- and Postnatal Homelessness and the Health of Young Children,” included >20 000 child-caregiver dyads, and they found that children who had been homeless were more likely to have previous hospitalizations, developmental delay, and worse health overall. The effects were largest in families who were homeless both before and after a child’s birth and in families who were homeless for more than 6 months while their child was an infant or toddler. This study addresses a key gap in our understanding, demonstrating the sizable short-term impact of homelessness on child health. It is the latest in a large and growing chorus of evidence on the severe health hazards of homelessness over the life course. It is also a call to action for our profession.
Schickedanz A, Chung PJ. Addressing family homelessness in pediatrics: Progress and possibility. Pediatrics. 2018;142(4). PMID: 30177512. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2018-2328.