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Housing Subsidies and Pediatric Undernutrition

Alan Meyers, MD, MPH; Deborah A. Frank, MD; Nicole Roos, MBA; Karen E. Peterson, RD, DSc; Virginia A. Casey, PhD, MPH; L. Adrienne Cupples, PhD; Suzette M. Levenson, MEd, MPH
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149(10):1079-1084. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170230033004.
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Objective:  To test the hypothesis that receipt of housing subsidies by poor families is associated with improved nutritional status of their children.

Design:  Cross-sectional study.

Setting:  Pediatric emergency department of an urban municipal hospital.

Patients:  Convenience sample of 203 children younger than 3 years and their families who were being seen during one of twenty-seven 24-hour periods.

Main Outcome Measures:  Anthropometric indicators (z scores of weight for age, weight-for-height, and height-for-age), and the proportion of children with low growth indicator (weight-for-height below the 10th percentile or height-for-age below the fifth percentile, or both, of the reference population).

Results:  Multivariate analysis controlling for demographics and program participation showed that receipt of housing assistance contributed significantly to z scores for weight-for-age (P=.03) and weight-for-height (P=.04). The risk of a child's having low growth indicators was 21.6% for children whose families were on the waiting list for housing assistance compared with 3.3% for those whose families received subsidies (adjusted odds ratio=8.2, 95% confidence interval=2.2 to 30.4, P=.002)

Conclusion:  Receiving a housing subsidy is associated with increased growth in children from low-income families, an effect that is consistent with a protective effect of housing subsidies against childhood undernutrition.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149:1079-1084)

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