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Women Health. 2008;47(2):63-86. doi: 10.1080/03630240802092308.

Self-reported health in mothers: the impact of age, and socioeconomic conditions.

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Department of Public Health Sciences, NASP, Karolinska Institutet, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.


The aim of the present analysis was to study health and well-being in mothers compared to women without children, and to analyze potential interactions with age and socioeconomic conditions. The study comprised 5,368 Swedish women born in 1960-1979 who were interviewed in any of the population-based Surveys of Living Conditions during the period 1996-2003. Having children at home was related to self-reported health symptoms and long-standing illness in multiple logistic regression models. The impact of age, cohabitation status, full-time or part-time work, and income level were analyzed. While mothers were less burdened by long-standing illness, partly due to selection mechanisms (a "healthy mother effect"), they experienced worse self-rated health and more fatigue than women without children, and the odds of poor self-rated health and fatigue increased by number of children. Conditions that strengthened the association between motherhood and impaired health were young maternal age, full-time employment, high income, and being alone. The study indicates a need for improved negotiations between parents regarding a fair share of work and family duties and extended support for lone mothers to prevent adverse health effects in women combining children and work. The results may be useful to policy-makers and employers in developing new policies.

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