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Children from socially disadvantaged families in Japan often suffer from health problems

The proportion of children with allergies and dental problems is more than ten times higher in families receiving social assistance in Japan than in families not receiving this assistance. It was the result of a study by the University of Tokyo.

The study by Naoki Kondo, associate professor of social epidemiology at the University of Tokyo, and his team considered stress, household dust and child neglect to be crucial factors.

Difference between single parents and socially strong families

The study looked at 573 boys and girls under the age of 15 from social assistance households in two communities in Japan in 2016. For comparison, the team looked at the overall data. children of the same age interviewed by the Ministry of Health.

Among children in social welfare households, 31% of boys aged 5 to 9 had asthma, the highest percentage by age group and gender, and more than 10 times higher than men. children of households without social benefits.

Similar results were calculated for allergies and dental problems. The level is more than 10 times higher than that of children from socially strong families. There are also differences between two-parent families and single-parent families.

Child care needs help

Scientists assume that only financial hardships and the challenge of raising children influence the results.

"Instead of singling out single parents, we can improve the health of children by providing extra support for childcare," said the professor.

With the launch by the Japanese government, starting in 2021, of a social assistance program for people in difficulty, focusing mainly on chronic diseases such as diabetes, this study suggests providing effective assistance to children.

Some communities and citizen initiatives have launched initiatives to tackle the problem, such as: support for studies and extracurricular activities, as well as the provision of meals to children of single parents and free or inexpensive meals in cafeterias.

"Over time, economic support has not been enough to reduce the health gap," said Katsunori Kondo, professor of social prevention medicine at Chiba University.

Source: MA