Evictions during pregnancy tied to adverse birth outcomes, study finds

Babies born to parents evicted during pregnancy tend to be born prematurely and have a lower weight
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Babies born to parents who are evicted during pregnancy are more likely to be born prematurely and have a lower birth weight, than those whose parents are evicted at a different time, a new study finds.

The study, released in March, found that “housing, social, and medical assistance to pregnant women at risk for eviction might improve birth outcomes and health across the life course.”

“It’s sort of this intergenerational transmission of disadvantage,” stated Gracie Himmelstein, one of the two authors of the study, which was published in JAMA Pediatrics. 

The researchers found that birth outcomes can serve as predictive measures for two things: infant mortality and a person’s entire life.

Eviction during pregnancy can also result in “shorter gestation, increased probability of being classified as lower birth weight or premature, and a trend toward increased infant mortality,” the study found.

Eviction can affect pregnancy in a number of ways, according to researchers, such as by promoting stress for the mother and the baby.

“Changes in maternal health behaviours and disruptions in prenatal care … affect birth outcomes by inducing acute stress, precipitating moves into homeless shelters or substandard housing, or forcing mothers to double up with others,” the study found.

Through the stressful nature of moving after an eviction, the study found that this can “increase exposure to infectious agents, environmental toxins, sexual coercion, or violence.”

The stress a pregnant woman experiences can harm the fetus directly, the study concluded.

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