A new study has found that mothers who work during infancy do not necessarily harm their children’s mental development. In the survey published last month by the Institute of Child Health, 17,000 Britons and their children, born mainly in the 1990s, were observed. Their development and behaviour was assessed through tests and questionnaires.

It was found that those whose mothers had returned to work in the months before their first birthday did not appear to be disadvantaged. Heather Joshi, co-author of the study and a professor at the Institute of Education in London, insisted that other factors, such as a stable home environment could have major influence on kids.

“There was evidence in some cases of a small negative impact [of women returning to work] in earlier decades - particularly for those born to working mothers in the 1970s and 1980s,” the Observer quoted her as saying. “But when we looked at this other batch of children, mostly born in the 1990s, we found that this smallish wrinkle in a very complicated pattern was not visible,” she added. However, it was noted that the children with working mothers had slightly less healthy lifestyles than those without, like eating a lower amount of fruit and vegetables and watching television for longer periods.

Joshi, who is director of the institute’s Centre for Longitudinal Studies, added, “But as the authors of that study say, this doesn’t mean that the way to stop children being obese is to stop mothers going out to work. It means that you need to pay better attention to the exercise that children are getting in the care facilities and at home.”

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