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title pic Yet Another Argument for Longer Maternity Leaves

Posted by Hilary Parker on August 8, 2011

Yet Another Argument for Longer Maternity Leaves

Battling depression on top of baby blues on top of new parenthood stress is no fun. I know — I’ve done it. And scientists are struggling to identify the underlying factors and causes linked to depression in new moms in hopes of stemming the tide.

One such study finds that too little maternity leave is associated with moms’ depression. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, mothers of 3-month-old infants who work full-time have higher depression and stress rates vs. mothers who stayed home with their babies.

Researchers pointed out, however, that this is not the case long-term for working mothers: Once their children reached six months old, these same moms reported no longer feeling a decrease in parenting quality time. It’s when a mother must return to work before that period that higher depression rates were seen.

In fact, working mothers showed decreased levels of depression and stress during a child’s first 4.5 years, the study shows. What’s more, the children of working mothers seem nicely adjusted, researchers found in their results, which back up a previous University College London study which found “no detrimental effects” for the children of working mothers. Quite the opposite was true — the children of two working parents thrived more than their peers, that study concludes.

In an interview with Time magazine, the new study’s authors say their findings “emphasize the need for parental leave policies that allow new parents to take longer leave, and/or work fewer hours in the first few months after childbirth.”

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