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Children Hospitalized Due to Harmful Housing Conditions

Update Date: Dec 13, 2013 03:23 PM EST

For most parents, keeping their children safe is a top priority. Despite childproofing a house or keeping tight supervision on children, a new study found that it is still common for children to get hospitalized due to harmful housing conditions. According to the study conducted by the University of Otago Wellington in New Zealand, a large number of children were hospitalized last winter due to poor housing conditions.

For this study, fourth-year medical students from the Wellington Hospital interviewed parents and caregivers who brought a child into the hospital. There were 106 children hospitalized over a span of two-weeks in July 2012. Based on the responses, the researchers found that the 50 percent of the cases were due to exposure to the cold in the house. 30 percent were caused by dampness, 24 percent by mold and 21 percent by overcrowding. 38 percent of the cases were related to second-hand smoke. The researchers reported that harmful housing conditions affected children who were from poor neighborhoods the most.

"This latest study adds to growing evidence about the harmful and costly effects of poor housing on child health in New Zealand, and supports the need for a housing 'warrant of fitness' and other measures to improving housing conditions," Professor Michael Baker said according to Medical Xpress.

"This study highlighted that we are treating children in hospital and potentially sending them home to situations that are dangerous to their health. This is most likely going to result in them returning to hospital or at least to their GP, and does not constitute effective healthcare delivery," Ashton Kelly, a trainee doctor, added. "It seems self-evident that New Zealand needs to put more effort into preventing these children getting sick in the first place."

The study was published in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

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