This paper reviews the research of the past two decades that addresses the relationship between family structure and early child health outcomes. Specifically, we focus on family structure's influence on child health during pregnancy, birth, and infancy. We briefly summarize the most pervasive changes to family structure in the US during recent decades and discuss how early child health is linked to future outcomes for children and adults. We review research that highlights the mechanisms linking family structure to early child health and identify key risk and protective factors for children from the prenatal period through infancy. We conclude with a critical assessment of current policy efforts to strengthen families and make recommendations for how best to address this issue for America's families going forward. (Author abstract)
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Family Matters: Links Between Family Structure and Early Child Health.