Stress from worrying about eviction causing physical problems for kids, parents

Originally published on Local 12.

CINCINNATI (WKRC) – Dr. Megan Sandel is the co-director of the Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center. They work with children diagnosed with “failure to thrive.”

“These are kids that are an inch off of the growth curve. They meet the World Health Organization diagnosis for malnutrition, but they live in the city of Boston,” Dr. Sandel said. “We have a multi-disciplinary team: social workers, nutritionists, doctors that are really getting kids back on the growth curve because if you’re not growing your body, you’re not growing your brain.”

The clinic has noticed behavior changes in some of the children.

“[A mother] said my child is angry with me all the time and what had come out was that he was acting out because of what, I think, is the stress that she was feeling around potentially becoming homeless,” Dr. Sandel said.

That stress is something the Grow Clinic is finding out can have a physical impact on the kids and parents in the program.

“It’s not just on a parent. It’s on a child, and it really is affecting every aspect of their life, from eating, sleeping to even breathing,” Sandel said. “It resulted in him acting out and regressing. He was now asking to sleep in her bed again.”

Dr. Sandel says the case load at the clinic has shot up 40% since the pandemic started. She says two-thirds of the families coming in don’t have enough food for the next couple of days. She says it’s heartbreaking to see what’s happening.