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Relocating frequently adversely affects children’s future health

A new study has revealed that moving house regularly as a child can have a negative impact and make them more prone to health problems as adults.

The report that was published by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine states that early- to mid-adolescence is the most vulnerable period for an individual when it comes to being frequently uprooted.

The researchers from the University of Manchester who conducted the study found that every house move increased the risk to mental and physical health.

Widely seen as one of life’s most stressful events, moving frequently leads to a greater risk of drug addiction, criminality, suicide and premature death, the study found. The effects were just as pronounced in wealthy families as in lower-income households.

Long-term study of 1,4 million people

Researchers from the University of Manchester analysed the data of 1,4 million Danish people from birth until they turned 14, between 1971 and 1997. These individuals were then tracked from their 15th birthday until their early 40s.

The study found that moving is especially hard on children when it occurs at the same time as other stressful life events such as their parents getting a divorce.

How often a person moved during their childhood and adolescence makes a big difference, as it appears that moving more than once per year has a more pronounced effect.

Attempted suicide risk was significantly elevated in relation to each exposure period, both for a single move and for multiple moves per year. The risk increased steadily with age, and was significantly raised if multiple annual relocations occurred at ages 12 to 14.

The study took into account the total number of relocations, the time that had passed since the most recent move and how long a person had lived at their current location. Moving house was defined by the researchers as relocating to a new municipality.

The study tracked mental illness histories, income, highest educational level and employment status.

Recommendations

The study concludes that moving house during childhood and early adolescence may even be considered "intrinsically harmful".

The researchers state that it’s therefore important that health and social services, schools and other public agencies become more aware of the psychological needs of relocated adolescents, including those from affluent as well as low-income families.

Thomas

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Thomas Lundberg

Born as a Swede in the Netherlands, this life-long expat has spent his time in Belgium, the United States and Amsterdam. He began his professional career as a regional news...

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