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Ambul Pediatr. 2003 Sep-Oct;3(5):228-33.

Who cares for the children? Pediatricians and parental leave.

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Department of Pediatrics, Evanston Northwestern Healthcare-Research Institute and Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Ill 30201, USA.



Evidence suggests that parental leave (PL) benefits child health and infant-parent attachment, yet little is known about how pediatricians view and discuss PL with parents.


To determine pediatricians' attitudes, practices, and their own use of PL, and how these may vary by gender.


Random mail surveys to 750 male and 750 female pediatricians focusing on attitudes about PL and the discussion of PL. Respondents with children were asked about their own PL use. After stratifying by gender, questions were compared using the chi-square, linear trend, and t test. Logistic regression was used to predict the likelihood of discussing PL.


Forty-four percent of men and 92% of women took time off after the arrival of a new child--a median of 14 days and 67 days, respectively. The majority (55%) believe it is important to discuss PL; however, 8% of men and 24% of women do so (P<.01). Men who took PL were 3.6 times more likely to discuss PL (P=.04) than men who did not. For women, each month increase in length of leave was associated with 2.2 times greater likelihood of discussing PL (P<.01). Women in smaller practices were 2.1 times more likely to discuss PL (P=.01) than women in larger practices.


Many pediatricians take PL and believe it is an important topic for discussion. Few pediatricians, however, incorporate discussion into their practices. In an era when most children grow up in households where both parents work outside the home, pediatricians should consider discussing with parents this important element of child health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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