Single mums prone to illness in midlife

New Delhi: A new study has revealed that single mothers are more susceptible to health problems in their midlife than their peers who become mothers after marriage.

The study findings show that women who had delivered children outside of marriage reported being less healthy when they reached their 40s than the ones who had postponed motherhood until after their marriage.

In addition, marriage, which occurred after motherhood did not appear to remedy women`s health problems unless they married the biological father, remained married to him and were white or Hispanic. Researchers did not notice any beneficial effect of later marriage for black mothers.

The researchers analysed survey responses from close to 4,000 women aged 14 to 22 years when the study began in 1979, following which they were interviewed every year until 1994 and then every two years afterward until 2008. The results of the thirty years study showed that women who had their first child out of wedlock reported lower levels of health at age 40 than did those who were married when they had their first child.

Considering that far more women have out-of-wedlock children today than several decades ago, the researchers have predicted the trend could lead to an increasing public health problem as these women enter their midlife. According to the researchers, about 40 per cent of newborns in the United States come from single moms compared with 10 per cent in 1960.

Researchers have concluded that the health effects were probably largely a result of the single mothers economic disadvantage. "In the long run, it`s still a case of the socioeconomic disparities that produce all sorts of negative outcomes for people," said William Avison, a sociologist at the University of Western Ontario in Canada.

The new study will be published in the Journal American Sociological Review.


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