Disentangling the Effects of Material and Social Deprivation on Early Childhood Development in the KFL&A Public Health Planning Area
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Life course literature states that early childhood development (ECD) can influence most aspects of health throughout the life-cycle. Canada ranked last among 25 wealthy nations in meeting ECD objectives. Fewer than 5% of children born have clinically detectable shortcomings in developmental health, increasing to 26% by school age with emerging socioeconomic associations. Understanding how social determinants of health (SDH) influence ECD at the household and neighbourhood scales would help identify conditions for optimal developmental outcomes. The effects of SDH on ECD in the Kingston, Ontario area were studied. SDH were classified via marginalization (ONMarg) and deprivation (Pampalon) indices. ECD was measured via 2006 Early Development Instrument (EDI) scores for children most at risk upon school entry (Grade One). The basic spatial unit of analysis was 2006 Census of Canada Dissemination Areas, subdivided into quintiles of deprivation (Q1 being the least deprived and Q5 the most). EDI results from each of the quintiles within the two indices were compared and then combined. The socioeconomic health gradient assumes that EDI scores will directly correlate to material and social deprivation. Social deprivation had a slightly greater impact than material deprivation on children’s developmental vulnerability, with Q5 being the most vulnerable in all competencies. Surprisingly, emotional health and social competence were significant areas of vulnerability for children in Q1 and Q2. “Village effects” – when social determinants at the neighbourhood level have protective effects on ECD despite material deprivation at the household level – were present within the Q3 and Q4 groups for the domains of social competency and emotional health. While the highest proportions of early childhood developmental vulnerability are found within the most deprived households, the largest numbers of vulnerable children are spread throughout the middle-class in a variety of neighbourhoods. Canadian policy should focus on mediating avoidable risks within this critical time to avoid future deleterious health effects and costs. Mapping the effects of SDH at the neighbourhood level generates knowledge that informs intersectoral action by policy makers to provide the supports needed to foster healthy children.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/8024
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