Poor Housing Linked With Respiratory Infections

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Sarah Peddie

Young children in New Zealand with respiratory infections could have been avoided if there was no damp or mould in their houses, according to a recent study.

The University of Otago conducted a study showing the link between housing quality and hospital admissions for young children with respiratory infections. 

The study was conducted in two paediatric wards in five general practice clinics in Wellington in 2011-13 during the winter and spring months. 

The quality of their housing was also assessed using the Respiratory Hazard Index.

They studied 188 children who were admitted to hospital with acute respiratory infections and 454 control patients who saw their GP with a respiratory illness or a routine immunisation. 

The research showed that children who became ill had higher levels of damp and mould in their homes. This could be addressed by a number of things like better heating, insulation and ventilation.

Dr Tristram Ingham, the study’s lead author, said that the health of children cannot be separated from the condition of their housing. She added that the country needs to address the problem of respiratory illnesses through Government policy or health board initiatives.  

She continued to say that reducing exposure of children to poor quality housing could cut the hospital admissions of under two’s by 1700 which is around 19% a year.

A spokesperson for the Associate Housing Minister responded to the study and said: “The research released today by Otago University underscores the importance of the Healthy Homes Standards, as the new standards will make rental homes healthier for tenants”. 

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