Headache and other symptoms among children in poor housing are linked to mold, cockroaches and dampness.
During 2010-2011 in Rosengård, Sweden, mothers of 359 children (age 0-13; participation rate 40%) in 2 disadvantaged immigrant neighborhoods were interviewed regarding health, lifestyle and apartment characteristics.
Trained health communicators performed home inspections.
Housing conditions were very poor; in one neighborhood, 67% of apartments were treated for cockroaches, 27% were cockroach-infested, and 40% had visible mold.
Mold was significantly associated with headache (OR 4.2, 95%CI 1.2-14.8) and current asthma with dampness (4.1, 1.7-9.9), based on logistic regression analysis adjusted for demographic/ lifestyle factors.
Cockroaches were associated with headache, emergency visits, colds, and difficulty falling asleep.
Worse general health was associated with mold and cockroaches.
Cross-sectional observational design; findings might not apply to non-Swedish children.
Why this matters
Association of poor housing conditions with headache and other symptoms suggests possible underlying mechanisms and interventions, as well as the need for better living conditions. Clinicians should ask about housing in children with these symptoms.