Parents who frequently move house 'put children's health at risk'
Those who had moved three times or more were twice as likely to have used illegal drugsChildren of single parents more likely to move home
Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 7:35 AM on 7th February 2012
Children who frequently move house are more likely to suffer poor health, research suggests.
Moving several times before the age of 18 can impact on overall health, psychological distress and increase the likelihood a child may use illegal drugs.
The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, included data for 850 people, followed-up for a period of 20 years.
Moving house blues: Scientists found changing accommodation several times could cause psychological distress in children
By the age of 18, 59 per cent had moved house once or twice while one in five had moved at least three times. Some 20 per cent had stayed in the same house during their childhood.
Children of single parents or those with step-parents were significantly more likely to move home, as were those with two or three siblings. Those with four or more brothers and sisters were more likely to stay put.
Experts found that people who moved at least once had an increased risk of poorer overall health, and some of this could be down to changing schools.
Those who had moved three times or more were twice as likely to have used illegal drugs and nearly three times as likely to have had suicidal thoughts as those who stayed in the same house.
However, the risk of some these problems had subsided by the age of 36 and there was no effect on physical measures such as weight, lung function and blood pressure.
Lead author Dr Denise Brown, from the Social and Public Health Sciences Unit in Glasgow, said: 'For many people, moving house is a positive experience as it may lead to improved family circumstances.
'But for some family members, especially children, moving can be stressful and may lead to poor health outcomes and behaviours in adulthood.
'The negative effect on health in adulthood appears to be somewhat accounted for by a high number of school moves.
'This suggests that support should be given to children during a family relocation to ensure that important social ties and relationships with healthcare professionals are not broken.'
The research was drawn from people taking part in a West of Scotland study.
But the experts said there was no reason to believe the effect on long-term health would not be replicated across the UK.
The research was funded by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health Directorates and the Medical Research Council.