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Working mums: The great debate

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The Avon Longititudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALPSAC) Research Team (Children of the 90's)
Press release
Publication Date: 
12 May 2003

Excerpts from press release:

Guilt-ridden working mothers may find reassurance in new research revealed today. The findings indicate that, at the age of three, there is no difference in activity levels or emotional development between children who attend day care and those who are cared for at home.

The researchers based their study on information collected during the first three years of the Children of the 90s (ALSPAC) project, based at the University of Bristol. This unique, on-going, study is following the health and development of 14,000 children born in 1991/92.

The research found that parents of babies aged six months naturally increased stimulation (through singing, physical play and cuddling) but there were no significant differences in the amount of stimulation a baby received according to whether or not the mothers stayed at home or worked. Babies who were placed in day care were active as those who stayed at home with mum all day.

Professor Dieter Wolke, child psychologist, and part of the ALSPAC study team who led the research project commented, "Over 60% of mothers now go out to work, compared with 21% 20 years ago and this trend is likely to increase. Most mothers experience some guilt about leaving their babies, however comfortable they are with their day-care arrangements, so will be reassured by our findings.

"We found no significant differences in how mums actively played with their babies according to whether or not mums worked or stayed at home. Interestingly, both sets of mothers played and talked with their children to a greater extent than their partners did &em; dads still have some catching up to do!"