Hard Times Can Make Kids Sick

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies, In The News, Health & Safety: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Health & Safety: Big Kids, Health & Safety: Tweens

food stamps

Food insecurity can cause long-term health problems. Credit: Spencer Platt, Getty Images

Squeezed by salary cutbacks, job loss and the belt tightening of the recession, parents now can add a new stressor to keep them tossing and turning all night: Even short-term poverty can make your kids sick, for a long time, according to a new study conducted by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Being poor for even a short period of time can have lasting health implications for children, according to a news release.

Nearly 21 percent of families with children are struggling to put food on their tables, up 25 percent from 2007 to 2008, according to the release. These families were deemed to be "food insecure," meaning they do not have access to enough nutritionally-adequate food to meet proper dietary needs according to the report data.

The findings are especially significant for children, because during childhood the body is growing rapidly and even a brief period of poor nutrition could lead to lifelong health issues, says David Rubin, M.D., and director of PolicyLab at the Children's Hospital in the release.

"While there has been much discussion about housing issues for families during this recession, I'm not sure many people know how profound the food insecurity issues have been, "Rubin says in the release, citing that 74 percent of children are now relying on food stamps to put dinner on the table.

"The evidence is also strong that those families who entered the recession in poverty will take much longer to rebound, demonstrating that we have a long road ahead even as the economy improves," Rubin says.

Also contributing to long-lasting health woes is the fact that 43 percent of families with children report that they are struggling to afford stable housing, according to the release. Unsafe living conditions, homelessness and frequent moves put children more at risk of suffering from health issues like hypertension, heart disease, depression or anxiety, asthma, developmental delays and behavioral problems, according to the report.

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