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Infant hospitalization and maternal depression, poverty and single parenthood


Objectives — There is variation in rates of hospitalization for young children which is unexplained by differences in health. We used population-based survey data to examine the contribution of family sociodemographic and psychodynamic factors to the risk of hospitalization in children under the age of 2 years in Canada.

Methods — Baseline data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (a population-based study of child health and well-being) were used. A weighted sample of 332 697 (unweighted n = 2184) children between the age of 12 and 24 months, whose biological mother reported data on hospitalization over the past year, were included. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to estimate the risk of hospitalization by sociodemographic and psychodynamic factors controlling for important biological covariates.

Results — The overall proportion of children who were hospitalized was 11.2%. After adjusting for prematurity, the only statistically significant biological factor associated with the risk of hospitalization was reported present health [odds ratio (OR) 4.04, 95% confidence intervals (CI): 2.93, 5.58]. However, three family variables were significantly associated with hospitalization: low income adequacy (OR 1.66, 95% CI: 1.15, 2.40), single parenthood (OR 1.55, 95% CI: 1.03, 2.34) and maternal depression (OR 1.81, 95% CI: 1.22, 2.69). Having a parent who is a recent immigrant to Canada is associated with a reduced risk of hospitalization (OR 0.53, 95% CI: 0.35, 0.78).

Conclusions — Most of the significant associations with hospitalization in the first 2 years of life in the Canadian population relate to the overall family's social and mental health. Maternal depression is a treatable disorder which if recognized might prevent some infant morbidity.



Guttmann A, Dick P, To T. Child Care Health Dev. 2004; 30(1):67-75.

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