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Home, Social Characteristics, And Community Health Outcomes


There is strong evidence linking residential structure to wellbeing. Health outcomes, such as blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity are affected by the area and quality of housing. Furthermore, health-improving properties of nearby residential places are linked with reduced rates of many health issues. Because of this, the effect of housing on general health is being considered by public health officials.

"There is just no comparison between people who have access to great schools, good career opportunities, excellent health and home and those who don't," says Gary Greene, a professor in the University of San Francisco School of Medicine. Click here to find out more "You can test for a direct effect of housing simply by following a family from poverty to affluence: should they reside in a poor neighborhood, they are more apt to acquire diabetes, should they live in a wealthy neighborhood, they are not as likely to have diabetes." The connection is particularly strong among children. "I always supposed that the significance was causal [inaudible]. It turns out to be an exogenous effect of housing."

Past the academic study of housing and health, the public has started to pay closer attention to the ramifications of urban living on young kids. A fresh NIMHD study found that houses in poor areas were more likely to be visited by kids with asthma compared to people in wealthy areas; and those with younger kids were three times as likely to see hospitals for asthma compared to children residing in good neighborhoods. These findings come as no surprise for parents. "You see kids in bad neighborhoods all of the time with asthma," says Greene. "They're living with the substance they brought home from school: dust, dirt, pollen, pets, and air contamination ." But the connection between housing and asthma could also be explained by the fact that neighborhoods with higher degrees of exposure to these causes are also higher than areas with lower prices.

While public health professionals have identified societal determinants as crucial components in the relationship between health and housing, there's a paucity of research about the effects of genetics within this institution. One study, however, has tried to ascertain whether genetic differences affect the probability of developing asthma or hay fever. Using identical twins, researchers looked in identical twins who grew up in the exact same environment but then at younger ages and found that a twin was significantly more likely to develop asthma compared to the other. Similarly, environmental variables were found to moderate the impact of identical twins and family history on symptoms. These studies indicate that genetics play a role in determining the condition that one feels inside, but don't know precisely how it influences the probability of developing health ailments.

The possible environmental aspects that may influence the probability of developing specific diseases may be reduced or eliminated through public health interventions. For instance, greater density of multi-family dwellings has been discovered to be associated with high rates of infectious disease. In addition, individuals residing in lower-income housing are more likely to contract infectious diseases. Public health experts have theorized that these findings would be the result of poor sanitary conditions, or even the existence of toxic substances. However, a lack of sanitation could cause higher rates of bacterial contamination, like in the home environment.

Public health officials are not able to ascertain whether poor housing conditions are resulting in an increased rate of childhood infectious diseases. However, they do notice that there is a correlation between poor housing conditions and the occurren

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