Housing Insecurity and Maternal and Child Health

December 22, 2020

As the suspension of eviction orders in many U.S. states comes to an end at the beginning of 2021, a new crisis of homelessness is around the bend. With many Americans still out of work or relying on unemployment due to the pandemic, and threats of a second lockdown coming, we must pay special attention to the broad effects of the pandemic on homelessness, employment, domestic violence, and food security, among the obvious public health effects.

An RTI International report entitled, Severe Housing Insecurity during Pregnancy: Association with Adverse Birth and Infant Outcomes, evaluated the connection between housing insecurity and high-cost birth outcomes such as stays in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or general extended hospital stays following birth.

The study found that children born to mothers living in severe housing insecurity had a 73% higher risk of low birth weight or preterm birth than those born to mothers who did not experience housing insecurity while pregnant.

The study also notes that women who experience housing insecurity are also likely experience multiple constraints and factors associated with social determinants, so while this study was able to test specifically for the impact of housing insecurity, the additional risk posed by social determinants like economic instability, food insecurity, poor access to healthcare, and exposure to environmental toxins, among other factors could impact the health of the mother and infant.

Read the full article here.