LAS VEGAS Disadvantaged, unhealthy mothers are much more likely to have sickly children than are disadvantaged moms who are relatively healthyand this is not only due to genetics, suggests new research to be presented at the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.
Relying on nationally representative data from the 2007 and 2008 National Health Interview Surveys, the study finds that children whose mothers are both in poor health and disadvantaged (determined by a combination of family income, race/ethnicity, family structure, and mother's level of education) experience a significantly greater number of health issuessuch as having fair or poor overall health and suffering from asthmathan children whose mothers are disadvantaged but relatively healthy.
"Mothers who experience frequent or serious health problems may have a harder time monitoring their children or performing day-to-day caretaking tasks, including taking their children to regular medical checkups," said study co-author Jessica Halliday Hardie. "Maternal health problems can also place emotional and material burdens on children and heighten their stress and anxiety. Finally, to care for herself, an unhealthy mother may have to use financial resources that could otherwise benefit her children."
The most striking aspect of the study is the stark contrast between the two groups of disadvantaged childrenthose with mothers in good health and those with mothers in poor health, said Nancy S. Landale, who co-authored the study with Hardie, her colleague at Pennsylvania State University's Population Research Institute.
Compared to children whose mothers are disadvantaged but relatively healthy, children whose mothers are both disadvantaged and unhealthy are more than five times more likely to have fair or poor overall health (as reported by the mothers).
Children of disadvantaged, unhealthy mothers also fare worse than children of disadvan
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American Sociological Association