Parental separation and behaviours that influence the health of infants aged 28 to 32 months: A cross-sectional study

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Background: In Western countries, many children are affected by the separation of their parents. The study's main objective was to analyse the parental behaviours potentially influential for preschool children's health by family structure (parents together or separated). Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study based on data collected from examinations as part of free preventive medical consultations in the French Community of Belgium. During the assessment of 30,769 infants aged 28 to 32 months, information was collected on the parents' use of tobacco, brushing of the infant's teeth, being monitored by a dentist, and receiving vision screening. The chi2 test was applied and the odds ratios were derived to compare the two groups of children (exposed/not exposed to parental separation). Multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to adjust the effect of exposure. Results: Nearly one in ten (9.8%) did not live with both parents under the same roof. Taking into account the social and cultural environment and other potential confounders at our disposal, we found that in the event of parental separation, behaviours differ in comparison with situations where parents live together; the adjusted odds ratios (ORs) (95% confidence interval) for the infant's exposure to tobacco, absence of teeth brushing, lack of monitoring by a dentist and absence of visual screening, were respectively 1.7 (1.2-2.0), 1.1 (0.9-1.2), 1.3 (1.1-1.6), 1.2 (1.1-1.2), and 1.2 (1.1-1.4). Conclusions: This study confirms the suspicion that parental separation is an independent risk factor for parental behaviours that negatively influence the infant's health. If these results are confirmed, this it could affect the work of the family doctors and paediatricians, especially in terms of family support and information to parents.




Kacenelenbogen, N., Dramaix-Wilmet, M., Schetgen, M., Roland, M., & Godin, I. (2018). Parental separation and behaviours that influence the health of infants aged 28 to 32 months: A cross-sectional study. BMC Pediatrics, 18(1).

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