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J Health Soc Behav. 1988 Mar;29(1):38-52.

Single motherhood and children's health.



This analysis employs the recently released Hispanic Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (hispanic HANES) and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey II (NHANES) to determine the effect of a mother's marital status on her report of her child's health for Mexican-American, black, and non-Hispanic white children aged 6 months to 11 years. The results reveal that single mothers report poorer overall physical health for their children than do mothers in intact marriages. Several social and cultural factors, including marital status, acculturation, and income, affect the accuracy of mother's assessments. The analysis also documented the extensive dependence of single mothers, especially minority-group mothers, on public programs. In summary, a mother's report of her child's health is the result of a complex interaction of cultural, demographic, and social class factors. This analysis revealed that marital status operates differently for 3 racial and ethnic groups, and that poverty and the stresses associated with single motherhood decrease levels of reported health for children. Analysis of a matched sample of Mexican-American children and their mothers revealed that, net of physician's assessment of a child's health, a mother's depression score is among the most significant predictors of her assessment of her child's health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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