Associations of household unmet basic needs and health outcomes among very low birth weight children


Objective: We examined associations of past year household hardships (housing, energy, food, and healthcare hardships) with postnatal growth, developmental risk, health status, and hospitalization among children 0-36 months born with very low birth weight (VLBW) and the extent that these relationships differed by receipt of child supplemental security income (SSI).

Study design: We examined cross-sectional data from 695 families. Growth was measured as weight-for-age z-score change. Developmental risk was defined as ≥1 concerns on the “Parents’ Evaluation of Developmental Status” screening tool. Child health status was categorized as excellent/good vs. fair/poor. Hospitalizations excluded birth hospitalizations.

Results: Compared to children with no household hardships, odds of developmental risk were greater with 1 hardship (aOR 2.0 [1.26, 3.17]) and ≥2 hardships (aOR) 1.85 [1.18, 2.91], and odds of fair/poor child health (aOR) 1.59 [1.02, 2.49] and hospitalizations (aOR) 1.49 [1.00, 2.20] were greater among children with ≥2 hardships. In stratified analysis, associations of hardships and developmental risk were present for households with no child SSI and absent for households with child SSI.

Conclusion: Household hardships were associated with developmental risk, fair/poor health status, and hospitalizations among VLBW children. Child SSI may be protective against developmental risk among children living in households with hardships.