Aug 19, 2019 | Updated: 03:06 PM EDT

One in Five UK Children Affected By Persistent Poverty

Jun 12, 2019 11:26 AM EDT

One in Five UK Children Affected By Persistent Poverty
(Photo : Image by Bessi from Pixabay)

In a new study published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, persistent poverty affects one in five children in the UK, and is connected with poor physical and mental health in early adolescence.

There is a rise in child poverty. The report of children to be living in poverty was about 30 percent in 2016 to 2017, up from 27 percent in 2010 and 2011, and the proportion is projected to rise further over the next five years. The amount of children living in comparative poverty is on course to go up to 37 percent, an additional 1.1 million children by 2023 and 2024.

Social, poorer mental and behavioral development in children have a connection with persistent poverty, and also employment prospects, worse academic results, and earning power into adulthood. The part that is not so much clear is if exposure patterns to poverty have diverse impacts on adolescent mental and physical health.

A group of researchers from the University of Liverpool and University College London investigates the situation further by analyzing data on 10,652 children from the Millennium Cohort Study in the UK, a big countrywide representative model of babies born between 2000 and 2002 who have been followed all through childhood.

The definition of poverty is less than 60 percent of average household income and it was measured at 9 months, and at 3, 5, 7, 11, and 14 years of age. They measured mental health with the use of a recognized questionnaire; they calculated physical health by obesity (BMI), and they requested parents to give details of any established sickness when their child was 14.

Nearly one in five (19.4 percent) children went through persistent poverty across all time points, while more than 60 percent (62 percent) of children never did. An additional 13.4 percent of children went through poverty in early childhood (between 9 months through to 7 years), while the remaining 5 percent went through it in late childhood, 11 to 14 years.

The researchers acknowledged that while this study is an observational one, and it is challenging to establish causality, other evidence suggests that poverty does indeed have a causal effect that leads to many aspects of poor child health. Furthermore, self-report of parents influenced some measures, and as a result may not have been entirely precise, as lost facts may also have influenced the results.

The researchers cautioned that the effect of growing degrees of poverty on the mental health of the children may possibly have insightful repercussions for social policies and their related social costs, given mental health tracks from early life to adulthood.

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