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Home routines in minority families may impede the healthy development and future school success of their children

Disadvantage may start at home in some black and Hispanic families, concludes a study supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS11305). The study found that black and Hispanic children under 3 years of age experience multiple disparities in home routines, safety measures, and educational practices/resources that could impede their healthy development and future school success. For example, black children were nearly twice as likely as other children to not have regular mealtimes. Black and Hispanic children were more likely than white children to never eat lunch or dinner with their families.

Minority parents were less likely than white parents to install stair gates or cabinet safety locks or to lower the temperature setting on hot water heaters to reduce the risk of children getting burned by scalding water. Minority children were also less likely to go to bed at the same time each day, and Hispanic children were less likely to have a consistent daily nap time. Minority parents also were much less likely than white parents to read daily to their children, and they had fewer children's books at home—less than 30 books in black homes and less than 20 books in Hispanic homes, compared with an average of 83 children's books per white household. Black children also averaged 1 more hour of daily television watching than other children.

Pediatric providers may be able to reduce some of these disparities by educating black and Hispanic parents of young children about more effective home routines, suggests Glenn Flores, M.D., of the Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Flores and his colleagues based their findings on an analysis of data from the 2000 National Survey of Early Childhood Health of a nationwide sample of parents of 2,608 children aged 4 months to 35 months.

See "Does disadvantage start at home? Racial and ethnic disparities in health-related early childhood home routines and safety practices," by Dr. Flores, Sandra C. Tomany-Korman, M.S., and Lynn Olson, Ph.D., in the February 2005 Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 159, pp. 158-165.

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