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Working Moms Happier, Healthier Than Stay-at-Home Peers: Study

TUESDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Working mothers have better health and fewer symptoms of depression than stay-at-home moms, a new study indicates.

The researchers also found that mothers with part-time jobs can balance work and nurturing their children better than those with full-time jobs.

For the study, published in the December issue of the Journal of Family Psychology, researchers analyzed data collected from over 1,300 mothers in the United States who were interviewed shortly after their child's birth and underwent further interviews and observation over more than 10 years of follow-up.

The women were enrolled in the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development.

Mothers who worked either full-time or part-time reported better overall health and fewer symptoms of depression than stay-at-home moms, according to the researchers at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Mothers with part-time jobs were just as involved in their child's school as stay-at-home moms, and more involved than mothers with full-time jobs, the investigators found. The study authors also noted that mothers with part-time jobs appeared more sensitive with their preschool children and provided more learning opportunities for toddlers than stay-at-home moms and mothers with full-time jobs.

The researchers pointed out that cost-conscious employers often hire part-time workers because they typically don't receive the same amount of benefits, such as health insurance, training and career advancement.

"Since part-time work seems to contribute to the strength and well-being of families, it would be beneficial to employers if they provide fringe benefits, at least proportionally, to part-time employees as well as offer them career ladders through training and promotion," study co-author Marion O'Brien, a professor of human development and family studies, said in a news release from the American Psychological Association.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about working mothers.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Psychological Association, news release, Dec. 12, 2011

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