Cumulative family risks across income levels predict deterioration of children's general health during childhood and adolescence

Family is considered an important agent in the health development of children. This process is significant but quite complex because the prevalence of potential risk factors in the family can hinder children’s health. This study examined if multiple family risks might have cumulative effect on children and youth’s health across various levels of household income. The data in this study were drawn from the 2011–2012 U.S. National Survey of Children’s Health (N = 79,601). A cumulative family risk (CFR) index was developed, which included such constructs as single-parenthood, unstable employment, large family, parenting stress, poor maternal education, poor maternal general health and poor maternal mental health. Multiple logistic regression analyses showed that CFR level was significantly related to children and youth’s poor health outcome (p < .001). When poverty levels were considered, however, the impact of CFRs on children and youth’s health was attenuated. The impact of CFRs was higher on children and youth from affluent families than on those from poor families. Overall there was a consistent pattern of trend in the point estimate as well as confidence limits as levels of affluence and numbers of family risk increased although some of the confidence intervals overlapped. Living in disadvantaged families might serve as a protective factor against CFRs possibly through repeated exposure to hardships and subsequent formation of resilience among some of the disadvantaged children.

Publication Date:
May 16 2017
Date Submitted:
Aug 10 2018
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 Record created 2018-08-10, last modified 2019-04-03

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