Child Care :: Heat or eat – the low income home energy assistance program can reduce health risks among young children

Evidence suggests that the stress of heating and cooling costs may adversely impact the health and nutritional status of children and other vulnerable individuals.

The study, “Heat or Eat: The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and Nutritional and Health Risks Among Children Less Than 3 Years of Age,” evaluated the association between a family’s participation or nonparticipation in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the health and well being of their young children. It found that children living in households with LIHEAP assistance were less likely to be undernourished, and had lower odds of hospitalization than children in comparable households not receiving LIHEAP assistance. Since many states’ LIHEAP programs shut down in early winter when funding is exhausted, the study authors urge pediatricians caring for young children living in poverty-stricken areas to encourage families to apply for LIHEAP early in the season before funding is depleted.

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