The effects of household water insecurity on child health and well-being

Steven J. Rhue, Giulia Torrico, Chioma Amuzie, Shalean M. Collins, Andrea Lemaitre, Cassandra L. Workman, Asher Y. Rosinger, Amber L. Pearson, Barbara A. Piperata, Amber Wutich, Alexandra Brewis, Justin Stoler

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


We extend the conceptualization of the social and health burdens of household water insecurity on children beyond the traditional narrow lens of microbiological pathogens and diarrhea. The global burden of disease associated with water insecurity has traditionally focused on diarrheal disease as the most significant driver of infant and child mortality. However, there are many other pathways through which children experience adverse health and social consequences from inadequate or unsafe household water. We synthesize evidence of a broad range of health impacts, affecting children from infancy to late adolescence, across four domains: exposure to unsafe water; interruptions to growth and development through poor nutrition and hydration; negative social effects such as school absenteeism and interpersonal violence; and other non-communicable health issues such as mental health, injuries, and reproductive health. The growing burden and urgency of these issues is implicated by forecasted increases in climate- and conflict-induced water scarcity, human displacement, and environmental contamination in the decades ahead. This article is categorized under: Engineering Water > Water, Health, and Sanitation Human Water > Rights to Water.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1666
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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