Working mothers do not harm babies’ development, says major new study

Children’s development and behaviour is not harmed if their mothers go back to work when they are babies, according to major new research. The report, ‘Does mothers’ employment affect children’s development?’, said that ‘despite public opinion to the contrary’, there is ‘little evidence’ that mothers who return to work in the first year of their child’s life damage the cognitive or behavioural development of school-age children.

Professor Heather Joshi, co-author and director of the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, said, ‘On balance, the answer to the question that the paper’s title poses is, No. It finds no evidence in Britain for mothers’ employment during the first year of the child’s life affecting these indicators of child development during school ages.’

The study involved 3,400 British and American babies whose mothers are from the 1970 British Cohort Study and the US 1979 National Longitudinal Study of Youth Child. They were also compared with 2,000 babies born to the 1958 British birth cohort.

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