OBJECTIVES: To describe the home environment in terms of housing conditions and their association with child health in a disadvantaged immigrant population.
DESIGN: A cross-sectional observational study.
SETTING: Enrolment took place during 2010-2011 in Rosengård, Malmö, Sweden.
PARTICIPANTS: Children aged 0-13 years in 2 study neighbourhoods were recruited from local health records and from schools. 359 children participated, with a participation rate of 40%. Data on health, lifestyle and apartment characteristics from questionnaire-led interviews with the mothers of the children were obtained together with data from home inspections carried out by trained health communicators.
OUTCOME MEASURES: Logistic regression analysis was used to estimate ORs for various health outcomes, adjusted for demographic information and lifestyle factors.
RESULTS: The housing conditions were very poor, especially in one of the study neighbourhoods where 67% of the apartments had been sanitised of cockroaches, 27% were infested with cockroaches and 40% had a visible mould. The association between housing conditions and health was mostly inconclusive, but there were statistically significant associations between current asthma and dampness (OR=4.1, 95% CI 1.7 to 9.9), between asthma medication and dampness (OR=2.8, 95% CI 1.2 to 6.4), and between mould and headache (OR=4.2, 95% CI 1.2 to 14.8). The presence of cockroaches was associated with emergency care visits, with colds, with headache and with difficulty falling asleep, and worse general health was associated with mould and presence of cockroaches.
CONCLUSIONS: The associations between dampness and asthma, and the association between mould and headache, are in line with current knowledge. The presence of cockroaches seemed to be associated with various outcomes, including those related to mental well-being, which is less described in the literature. The results of the present study are hypothesis generating and provide strong incentives for future studies in this study population.
2016. Vol. 6, no 1, e007979