Working mums ‘don’t harm’ offspring’s development  in first year, claims study

Working mums don’t harm their baby’s development if they go back to work during their first year, claims new research by an American university.

Working mums don’t harm their baby’s development if they go back to work during their first year, claims new research by an American university.
A study by the Columbia University School of Social Work has found children don’t fare any worse if their mothers work during their child’s first year of life.
But findings in the First-Year Maternal Employment and Child Development in the First 7 Years report showed high-quality childcare did make a difference to the child’s development.
Researchers used data on non-Hispanic white children and considered cognitve and behavioural outcomes – they followed the youngsters from birth to first grade with frequent assessments on standard and reliable psychometric measures.
The authors said the study found no negative effects of first-year maternal employment after analysing income, parenting and childcare.
”While early maternal employment has some downsides, it also offers some advantages – increasing mothers’ income, and making it more likely that children attend high-quality childcare,” said the report.  ”Taking the advantages and disadvantages into account, the effect is neutral.”
Dr Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, professor of child development and education at Columbia University and one of the authors of the study, said: ”This is great news for the overwhelming majority of mothers (80%) who work during their child’s first year of life.
‘Many parents, women in particular, struggle with the difficult transition of returning to work, and the new data from our study should alleviate some of the parental concerns about the negative effects maternal working might have on child outcomes.”
But the study published this week by the Society for Research in Child Development found children did fare better if their mothers worked part-time - fewer than 30 hours per week - rather than full-time in the first year. 
Fellow author Dr Wen-Jui Han, associate professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work,  said: ”Our results call into question existing theoretical approaches to this area, much of which has emphasised the primacy of early relationships between the mother and child.
”Although early relationships are important, we found little or no evidence that first-year maternal employment affected child attachment.  Instead, the more important factors are those related to the quality of parenting and children’s experiences of childcare.” 



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