Study: Working Mothers Have One More Reason to Feel Guilty

Filed under: Work Life, In The News

Working mother guilt

The children of working mothers are apparently at greater risk of health problems. Credit: Corbis


This just in: Working mothers are the leading cause of male pattern baldness.

No, not really.

But they might as well be. It seems they are responsible for just about every ill that besets humanity. They can't catch a break. Just this month, ParentDish reported on how working mothers supposedly have more fat kids.

Now a new study is adding another leg to the guilt trip. The children of working mothers are apparently at greater risk of health problems.

The Kansas City Star reports researchers from North Carolina State University just had to bum working mothers out by finding that their kids have a 200 percent greater risk of overnight hospital stays, asthma episodes, injuries and poisonings.

"Maternal employment imposes a burden on a mother's time and may result in the poorer supervision or care of her children," writes Dr. Melinda Morrill, the North Carolina economics professor who led the study. "A child's health is at least partially a function of time-intensive activities such as healthy meal preparation and house cleaning."

Another risk: Increasing smugness among stay-at-home moms.

Morrill acknowledges that, telling the Kansas City Star she worries about toxic smug levels and warns people not to make sweeping generalizations about working mothers.


And we all know working mothers don't sweep all that much. Oops. Sorry, generalization.

Morrill and her team looked at 89,000 kids ages 7 to 17 and examined 20 years of data from the federal National Health Interview Survey.

The Star reports that her conclusions fly in the face of previous studies, which concluded that the children of working mothers are actually healthier because their families have more money for health care and because their moms feel good about themselves.

Well, they did until Morrill's study came along anyway.

Morrill tells the Kansas City Star the previous studies confused causes with effects. They overlooked the fact that some mothers can't work outside the home because their kids have special needs or chronic health problems, she says.

She adds that decisions to work or stay home are based on complex sets of variables. Only one thing is certain. Working mothers are evil -- eeeeevil!

Actually, Morrill tells the Star, that's the wrong message to take away from the study.

"A mother's decision to work could reflect underlying (and unobserved) ability, skills or preferences, so that a mother that works may be different in important ways from a mother that does not work," she writes in the study.

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