TUESDAY, Feb. 7, 2012 (HealthDay News) --Children who move frequently may be at greater risk for worse health and psychological distress later on in life, according to a new study.
Researchers also found kids who changed homes frequently were more likely to drink heavily and smoke as teens and adults.
In the study, researchers followed 850 people in Scotland aged 15, 35 and 55 over 20 years.
One in five people had lived at the same address throughout childhood; 59 percent had moved once or twice; and about 21 percent had moved at least three times.
Children in single-parent homes or those with a stepparent were more likely to move than others. Families with two or three children were also much more likely to move than families with four or more kids.
Frequent moves during childhood were associated with an increased risk of poorer overall health, psychological distress, and heavy drinking and smoking during adolescence and adulthood.
The study was published online Feb. 6 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
While the study uncovered an association between being frequently uprooted and poorer health later on, it did not prove that the frequent moves were the cause of the poorer health.
The study's authors pointed out in a journal news release that having to change schools could disrupt children's family or social lives, which may explain some of the negative effects.
The U.S. National Network for Childcare provides more information on how to prepare children for a move.