The Growing up in New Zealand study says only one in five families whose children could become vulnerable access social support in the child’s first 1000 days of life.
University of Auckland associate professor Susan Morton says experiencing “persistent exposure to adversity” in early life has a negative impact on children’s health and behaviour.
“It is a real concern to see that the majority of families who are potentially most in need of support during their children’s early years are not connected to social service providers,” she says.
The study is following almost 7000 children from before birth until adulthood, and utilises a set of 12 “risk factors”, including:
- Maternal depression
- Poor maternal physical wellbeing
- Mother smoking regularly/daily during and after pregnancy
- Teenage pregnancy
- Mother with no current partner
- Mother with no formal secondary school qualifications
- Reporting highly stressful money problems
- Living in a low socio-economic area
- Mother actively seeking work but not currently working
- Living in public rental accommodation
- Being in receipt of an income-tested Government benefit
- Having two or more persons on average per bedroom.