Introduction: Care giving for children with chronic diseases can lead to financial strain and compromised family well being. Little is known about whether these stresses lead to changes in residential movement patterns as they relate to income adequacy and proximity to care.
Methods: We compared the residential movement patterns and associated changes in neighbourhood income of children with mild to severe chronic diseases compared with those that are healthy. A cohort of infants born from 2002-2007 in Ontario, Canada was followed for 5 years and divided into those with single- or multiple- body system complex chronic conditions (CCCs); low birth weight (LBW); asthma/recurrent wheeze (A/RW) and the control group of otherwise healthy children.
Results: Of 598,716 children studied, 15,207 had a single CCC, 3,600 multiple CCCs, 33,206 LBW, 57,137 A/RW and 489,566 were healthy. Lowest income quintile children were most likely to move residence. Compared with healthy controls, chronic disease cohorts, apart from those with asthma, were more likely to be born in the lowest income quintile neighbourhood and to move. Among children who moved, all chronic disease cohorts were significantly more likely to move to a low income quintile neighborhood (adjusted odds ratios for all chronic disease cohorts of 1.1-1.2). There were no differences across cohorts in residential movement close to a children's hospital.
Conclusions: Young children with chronic conditions, particularly those born in low income neighbourhoods, are more likely to move residence than other healthy young children. However, it does not seem that proximity to specialized care is driving this movement. Further research is required to determine if these movement patterns impact the ability of children with chronic conditions to secure health services.