New research by Children's HealthWatch finds that the cumulative effects of multiple hardships on young children, including a lack of nutritious food, unstable housing and inadequate home heating and cooling, decrease the chances of normal growth and development in very young children. The research shows that the greater the level of hardship experienced, the less likely a child was to be classified as 'well' on a composite indicator of well-being and the more likely their parents were to be concerned about their development.
These current findings raise serious concerns about the future well-being of America's youngest children. Deprivations in early life can change the lifetime trajectory of children's health and development. Enhanced coordination across safety net programs, strong child nutrition programs, and an adequate supply of affordable housing could help offset the impacts of hardship on our nation's youngest and most vulnerable children.