Babies born into homelessness are showing motor development delays, says INMO
Infants living in hotel accommodation in the first year of life are behind in their development, a leading public health nurse has warned.
The numbers of homeless children in Ireland is excess of 3,000, including babies who have been born into homelessness.
This is a new phenomenon for the public health nurses who monitor the babies over the first two years of life.
"We are getting hotel addresses now which is something we never heard of," Mary Leahy, a public health nurse and vice president of the INMO, told Dublin Live.
"With the younger tots up to the age of three months I’m noticing a growth motor developmental delay.
"The baby wouldn’t be able to hold its head at the stage we expect and there is poor muscle tone. It should be able to sit independently at eight or nine months."
The issue is that parents are reluctant to put their babies down on the floor for 'tummy time', which helps babies learn to prop themselves up and lift their head.
"When you ask, 'Why?' they say, 'It’s a hotel room carpet, it’s filthy,'" continued Mary.
"They don’t mean dirty visually, but they know there has been 200 pairs of feet walking on that floor. I tell them to ask for towels to put the baby on."
She added that babies are suffering speech and language delays because their parents are missing check-ups as they don't have any transport.
Last week, figures showed that the number of pregnant women accessing 'one-night-only' emergency homeless accommodation is on the rise.
"It's appalling to see a woman go into labour in a one night only hostel, to then go into hospital and to not know where she can come back to," said Depaul CEO Kerry Anthony.