Frequent house moves affect a child’s long-term health

Children who move house frequently when young may be more likely to suffer poor health in adulthood, according to new research from the Medical Research Council

Attention parents holding a job that involves frequent relocation! Research from the Medical Research Council [MRC] suggests that moving house frequently during childhood raises a child’s risk of poor health as an adult.

The research team kept a tab on the subjects [who were newborns or up to 18 years of age] for 20 years. The team evaluated overall health of the subjects including a limiting long-term illness, subjective evaluation of general health, unhealthy behaviors [such as illegal drug use, smoking or heavy drinking], physical health [such as waist: hip ratio, blood pressure and lung function] and psychological health.

They found that children who moved most frequently [thrice or more] in that period were two times more likely to have taken illegal drugs than those who never changed homes. They were also thrice as likely to have battled with thoughts of killing themselves than those who stayed in the same home.

However, it was noticed that some of the negative health outcomes were lessened by the time the participants reached age 36.

“For many people, moving house is a positive experience as it may lead to improved family circumstances. But for some family members, especially children, moving can be stressful and may lead to poor health outcomes and behaviours in adulthood. The negative effect on health in adulthood appears to be somewhat accounted for by a high number of school moves. This suggests that support should be given to children during a family relocation to ensure that important social ties and relationships with healthcare professionals are not broken,” said lead author Dr Denise Brown, from the MRC/Chief Scientist Office Social and Public Health Sciences Unit [SPHSU] in Glasgow.

Similar studies have been carried out in other countries as well to throw up findings to the same effect. Also, although regional influence can play its part and the researchers find no reason to believe that this effect of frequent shifting homes on long-term health will not replicated in other countries.

The research was carried out by the SPHSU in Glasgow, the University of Stirling and Queen’s University, Belfast. It was funded by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health Directorates and the MRC.

Source: Medical Research Council;


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