Fragile Families and Health in Early Childhood in Canada

Lisa Strohschein, University of Alberta

The current study had three goals: (1) to describe the prevalence of fragile families among first time mothers in Canada, (2) to test whether children born into cohabiting two-biological-parent households and never-married lone-mother households are at greater risk for asthma and otitis media (ear infection) relative to children born into married two-biological-parent households, and (3) to evaluate whether observed differences are attributable to the fewer economic resources and greater risk for family instability among unmarried parent households. Data come from combined cross-sectional data from cycles 5 through 8 of the Early Child Development cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth, with analysis restricted to firstborn children aged 0 and 1 in each cycle (N=5,925). Asthma and otitis media were associated with family structure at birth as was family instability. Neither economic resources nor family instability accounted for the effects of family structure at birth on health outcomes.

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Presented in Session 131: Family Instability