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The association between crowding within households and behavioural problems in children: longitudinal data from the Southampton Women's Survey

The association between crowding within households and behavioural problems in children: longitudinal data from the Southampton Women's Survey
The association between crowding within households and behavioural problems in children: longitudinal data from the Southampton Women's Survey
Background

In England, nearly one child in ten lives in overcrowded housing. Crowding is likely to worsen with increasing population size, urbanisation, and the ongoing concerns about housing shortages. Children with behavioural difficulties are at increased risk of mental and physical health problems and poorer employment prospects.

Objective

To test the association between the level of crowding in the home and behavioural problems in children, and to explore what factors might explain the relationship.

Methods

Mothers of 2576 children from the Southampton Women's Survey population‐based mother‐offspring cohort were interviewed. Crowding was measured at age 2 years by people per room (PPR) and behavioural problems assessed at age 3 years with the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Both were analysed as continuous measures, and multivariable linear regression models were fitted, adjusting for confounding factors: gender, age, single‐parent family, maternal education, receipt of benefits, and social class. Potential mediators were assessed with formal mediation analysis.

Results

The characteristics of the sample were broadly representative of the population in England. Median (IQR) SDQ score was 9 (6‐12) and PPR was 0.75 (0.6‐1). In households that were more crowded, children tended to have more behavioural problems (by 0.20 SDQ points (95% CI 0.08, 0.32) per additional 0.2 PPR, adjusting for confounding factors). This relationship was partially mediated by greater maternal stress, less sleep, and strained parent‐child interactions.

Conclusions

Living in a more crowded home was associated with a greater risk of behavioural problems, independent of confounding factors. The findings suggest that improved housing might reduce childhood behavioural problems and that families living in crowded circumstances might benefit from greater support.

behaviour, cohort study, crowding, housing tenure, parent-child interactions, strengths and difficulties score
0269-5022
195-203
Marsh, Rachael
d63935e0-97f4-487f-9b50-61f4beaddb1a
Salika, Theodosia
2d7e134c-1e7b-4d5d-b69e-bc1447daf02e
Crozier, Sarah
9c3595ce-45b0-44fa-8c4c-4c555e628a03
Robinson, Sian
ba591c98-4380-456a-be8a-c452f992b69b
Cooper, Cyrus
e05f5612-b493-4273-9b71-9e0ce32bdad6
Godfrey, Keith
0931701e-fe2c-44b5-8f0d-ec5c7477a6fd
Inskip, Hazel
5fb4470a-9379-49b2-a533-9da8e61058b7
Baird, Janis
f4bf2039-6118-436f-ab69-df8b4d17f824
for the SWS Study Group
Marsh, Rachael
d63935e0-97f4-487f-9b50-61f4beaddb1a
Salika, Theodosia
2d7e134c-1e7b-4d5d-b69e-bc1447daf02e
Crozier, Sarah
9c3595ce-45b0-44fa-8c4c-4c555e628a03
Robinson, Sian
ba591c98-4380-456a-be8a-c452f992b69b
Cooper, Cyrus
e05f5612-b493-4273-9b71-9e0ce32bdad6
Godfrey, Keith
0931701e-fe2c-44b5-8f0d-ec5c7477a6fd
Inskip, Hazel
5fb4470a-9379-49b2-a533-9da8e61058b7
Baird, Janis
f4bf2039-6118-436f-ab69-df8b4d17f824

Marsh, Rachael, Salika, Theodosia, Crozier, Sarah, Robinson, Sian, Cooper, Cyrus, Godfrey, Keith, Inskip, Hazel and Baird, Janis , for the SWS Study Group (2019) The association between crowding within households and behavioural problems in children: longitudinal data from the Southampton Women's Survey. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, 33 (3), 195-203. (doi:10.1111/ppe.12550).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Background

In England, nearly one child in ten lives in overcrowded housing. Crowding is likely to worsen with increasing population size, urbanisation, and the ongoing concerns about housing shortages. Children with behavioural difficulties are at increased risk of mental and physical health problems and poorer employment prospects.

Objective

To test the association between the level of crowding in the home and behavioural problems in children, and to explore what factors might explain the relationship.

Methods

Mothers of 2576 children from the Southampton Women's Survey population‐based mother‐offspring cohort were interviewed. Crowding was measured at age 2 years by people per room (PPR) and behavioural problems assessed at age 3 years with the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Both were analysed as continuous measures, and multivariable linear regression models were fitted, adjusting for confounding factors: gender, age, single‐parent family, maternal education, receipt of benefits, and social class. Potential mediators were assessed with formal mediation analysis.

Results

The characteristics of the sample were broadly representative of the population in England. Median (IQR) SDQ score was 9 (6‐12) and PPR was 0.75 (0.6‐1). In households that were more crowded, children tended to have more behavioural problems (by 0.20 SDQ points (95% CI 0.08, 0.32) per additional 0.2 PPR, adjusting for confounding factors). This relationship was partially mediated by greater maternal stress, less sleep, and strained parent‐child interactions.

Conclusions

Living in a more crowded home was associated with a greater risk of behavioural problems, independent of confounding factors. The findings suggest that improved housing might reduce childhood behavioural problems and that families living in crowded circumstances might benefit from greater support.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 21 February 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 29 April 2019
Published date: 27 May 2019
Keywords: behaviour, cohort study, crowding, housing tenure, parent-child interactions, strengths and difficulties score

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 429732
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/429732
ISSN: 0269-5022
PURE UUID: d56cda14-3885-4f7a-8792-1bd568a6cb11
ORCID for Sarah Crozier: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-9524-1127
ORCID for Sian Robinson: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1766-7269
ORCID for Cyrus Cooper: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-3510-0709
ORCID for Keith Godfrey: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-4643-0618
ORCID for Hazel Inskip: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-8897-1749
ORCID for Janis Baird: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-4039-4361

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 04 Apr 2019 16:30
Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 16:59

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