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Early Hum Dev. 2008 Apr;84(4):237-42. Epub 2007 Jul 26.

Working mothers and early childhood outcomes: lessons from the Canadian National Longitudinal Study on Children and Youth.

Author information

1
Division of Neonatology, Children's and Women's Health Centre of British Columbia, 4480 Oak Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada. rsherlock@cw.bc.ca

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

More mothers are choosing to return to work during the first 2 years of their child's life with an uncertain impact on early developmental outcomes.

AIMS:

To determine the association between duration of maternity leave and motor and social development of toddlers.

STUDY DESIGN:

Population-based, retrospective cohort study.

SUBJECTS:

The Canadian National Longitudinal Survey on Children and Youth (NLSCY) Cycle 3 provides data on the characteristics and life experience of Canadian children. For sampled households, the person most knowledgeable about the child completed a survey on demographics, parent characteristics and family environment. The analysis was limited to 6664 families with children up to 2 years.

OUTCOME MEASURES:

Logistic regression was used to assess the association between duration of maternity leave and impaired performance (<-1 SD below the mean) on the Motor and Social Development (MSD) scale adjusted for multiple covariates including maternal age, gender, breastfeeding and socioeconomic status.

RESULTS:

One month of maternity leave increased the odds of impaired performance on the MSD by 3% (OR 1.03, 95% CI 1.02, 1.04). This was also seen with categorized maternity leave duration. Being male (OR 1.53, 95% CI 1.35, 1.74) and having a younger mother (OR 1.48, 95% CI 0.98, 2.23) increased the risk of impaired performance on the MSD while being of higher SES reduced the risk (OR 0.96, 95% CI 0.93, 1.00).

CONCLUSIONS:

There is an association between duration of maternity leave and impaired performance in motor and social development in children up to 2 years.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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