Children of working moms face more health problems

Feb 16, 2011

Children of working mothers are significantly more likely to experience health problems, including asthma and accidents, than children of mothers who don't work, according to new research from North Carolina State University.

"I don't think anyone should make sweeping value judgments based on a mother's decision to work or not work," says Dr. Melinda Morrill, research assistant professor of economics at NC State and author of the study. "But, it is important that we are aware of the costs and benefits associated with a mother's decision to work."

The study looked at the health of school-age children who have at least one younger sibling. When a mother works, the study found, it leads to a 200 percent increase in the child's risk of having each of three different adverse health events: overnight hospitalizations, episodes, and injuries or poisonings.

Previous studies have shown that, on average, children have better when the mother works. Those findings have been attributed to factors such as increased income, availability of and an increase in the mother's self-esteem.

However, Morrill found that was not the case. Morrill used advanced statistical techniques to focus specifically on the causal relationship between mothers working and children's health. Morrill's approach accounts for a number of confounding factors, such as how a child's health affects the mother's ability to work. For example, if a child is very sick, the mother may be more likely to stay at home.

"I wanted to look at mothers whose decision to work was not based on their children's health," Morrill says, explaining that a woman's youngest child's eligibility for kindergarten can influence her ability to return to the . In assessing health outcomes, Morrill looked solely at older children already enrolled in school, between the ages of 7 and 17, whose youngest sibling was around kindergarten age.

The study examined 20 years worth of data covering approximately 89,000 children from the CDC's National Health Interview Survey. The data were collected between 1985 and 2004.

Explore further: Can YouTube save your life?

More information: The paper, "The effects of maternal employment on the health of school-age children," is forthcoming from the Journal of Health Economics.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Violence against women impairs children's health

Sep 11, 2008

Violence against women in a family also has serious consequences for the children's growth, health, and survival. Kajsa Åsling Monemi from Uppsala University has studied women and their children in Bangladesh and Nicaragua ...

Recommended for you

Can YouTube save your life?

Aug 29, 2014

Only a handful of CPR and basic life support (BLS) videos available on YouTube provide instructions which are consistent with recent health guidelines, according to a new study published in Emergency Medicine Australasia, the jo ...

Doctors frequently experience ethical dilemmas

Aug 29, 2014

(HealthDay)—For physicians trying to balance various financial and time pressures, ethical dilemmas are common, according to an article published Aug. 7 in Medical Economics.

AMGA: Physician turnover still high in 2013

Aug 29, 2014

(HealthDay)—For the second year running, physician turnover remains at the highest rate since 2005, according to a report published by the American Medical Group Association (AMGA).

Obese or overweight teens more likely to become smokers

Aug 29, 2014

A study examining whether overweight or obese teens are at higher risk for substance abuse finds both good and bad news: weight status has no correlation with alcohol or marijuana use but is linked to regular ...

User comments : 0