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HRSA: Father’s Health Status and Inequalities in Physical and Mental Health of U.S. Children

A new study co-authored by researchers from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), has shown that children of fathers with poor mental health had a 2.6 times greater risk of having poor mental health.

The study, published by Drs. Romuladus E. Azuine and Gopal K. Singh, found a 3.1 times higher risk of poor overall health among children of fathers with poor overall health. The study also found that, in general, 3.2 percent of U.S. children had poor physical health; and 6.0 percent of U.S. children had emotional or behavioral problems.

According to Drs. Azuine and Singh, “the study results underscore the significant role of fathers in the physical and mental well-being of children.” They added that engaging fathers in child health may provide a potential opportunity to reduce mental and emotional health problems among children.

They remarked that given that father-and-child-health risk relationship was poorly studied and understood in public health, there was an urgent need to examine the impact of father’s physical and mental health status and sociodemographic characteristics on the physical and mental outcomes of U.S. children 0–17 years of age.

The study, published in the journal, Health Equity, is among the few population-based studies demonstrating very strong association between father’s health and the health of their children using a large nationally representative dataset. The researchers analyzed data on 75,879 U.S. children from the 2011–2012 National Survey of Children’s Health to estimate prevalence and odds of poor physical and mental health among children according to father’s physical and mental health status and sociodemographic characteristics.

Read full-text article on the Health Equity website.

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