Infants Exposed to Homelessness: Health, Health Care Use, and Health Spending from Birth to Age Six

Wednesday, May 8, 2019
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Linda Weinreb, MD
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Julie M. Flahive, MS
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Robert W. Seifert, MPA
Commonwealth Medicine

While homeless infants are known to often have poor birth outcomes, there has not been as much research done on the long-term impacts of homelessness as a child on a person's future health. In this article published in Health Affairs, our Health, Law & Policy expert collaborated with research colleagues from UMass Medical School to analyze the health outcomes of infants born into homelessness.

The report examines 5,762 infants that experienced homelessness between 2008-2015, linking emergency shelter records with Medicaid claims. Many of these newborns experienced problems like low birthweight, respiratory issues, fevers, and longer neonatal intensive care unit stays that required higher annual medical spending. The period when a child was between the ages of one and six was tied to higher spending due to asthma diagnoses and emergency department visits.