Multiple Homes Produce Health Risks

Moving home often may create various health issues

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) We all know that stability is important for healthy development in childhood. Moving frequently can be a factor that disrupts children's social stability.

But it may also affect their quality of health later in life. 

These issues may included physical and psychological health and high-risk behaviors such as smoking, excessive drinking and drug use.

"A stable home creates healthier adults."

Dr. Denise Brown, from the Social and Public Health Sciences Unit (SPHSU) in Glasgow, was the lead author of a study that followed 850 people over a 20-year period, to investigate any link between moving houses during childhood to a broad range of health outcomes in adulthood.

Researchers examined the number of addresses each participant had lived at between birth and age 18, and compared this with the range of physical health measures and self-reported information. By age 18, almost two-thirds of participants had moved houses once or twice; while one in five had moved at least three times.

For those who had moved at least once before age 18, they were at an increased risk of reduced overall health.

But the most frequent movers—those with three childhood moves or more—were twice as likely to have used illegal drugs and nearly three times as likely to have had suicidal thoughts than those who stayed in the same house.

By the time the participants were 36 years old, however, some of these negative health outcomes had been reduced.

“For many people, moving house is a positive experience as it may lead to improved family circumstances," said Brown. "But for some family members, especially children, moving can be stressful and may lead to poor health outcomes and behaviors in adulthood."

The researchers found that negative health effects seemed to be compound by the addition of a high number of school moves. Brown suggested that support should be given to children during a family move to ensure the best outcomes.

Studies done here in the United States, and other countries, have also demonstrated this link between frequent residential moves in childhood and poorer health status.

The research was carried out by the SPHSU in Glasgow, the University of Stirling and Queen’s University, Belfast, and conducted using data collected from the West of Scotland Twenty-07 Study, a large population study designed to investigate the influence of social and economic factors on health.

The study was funded by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health Directorates and the MRC. Findings were published in the February 2012 issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 13, 2012
Last Updated:
February 14, 2012