Non-parental care in childhood and health up to 30 years later: ONS Longitudinal Study 1971–2011
Murray, E. T., Lacey, R. E., Maughan, B., & Sacker, A. (2020) European Journal of Public Health 30 (6), 1121–1127 [ONS LS]
Background: Children who spend time in non-parental care report worse health later in life on average, but less is known about differences by type of care. We examined whether self-rated health of adults who had been in non-parental care up to 30 years later varied by type of care.
Methods: We used longitudinal data from the office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study. Participants were aged <18 and never-married at baseline of each census year from 1971 to 2001. Separately for each follow-up period (10, 20 and 30 years later), multi-level logistic regression was used to compare self-rated health outcomes by different care types.
Results: For combined census years, sample sizes were 157 896 dependent children with 10 years of follow-up, 166 844 with 20 years of follow-up and 173 801 with 30 years of follow-up. For all follow-up cohorts, longitudinal study members who had been in care in childhood, had higher odds of rating their health as ‘not good’ vs. ‘good’; with highest odds for residential care. For example, 10-year follow-up odds ratios were 3.5 (95% confidence interval: 2.2–5.6) for residential care, 2.1 (1.7–2.5) for relative households and 2.6 (2.1–3.3) for non-relative households, compared with parental households after adjustment for childhood demographics. Associations were weakest for 10-year, and strongest for 20-year, follow-up. Additional adjustment for childhood social circumstances reduced, but did not eliminate, associations.
Conclusion: Decades after children and young people are placed in care, they are still more likely to report worse health than children who grew up in a parental household.
Available online: European Journal of Public Health
Output from project: 1008925