Tuesday 6 December 2016

Child's development suffers if mum works full-time, says study

Published 04/12/2015 | 02:30

At the launch of the ‘Non-Parental Childcare and Child Cognitive Outcomes at Age Five’ report were Minister James Reilly and Holly Coyle
At the launch of the ‘Non-Parental Childcare and Child Cognitive Outcomes at Age Five’ report were Minister James Reilly and Holly Coyle

Children whose mothers work full-time during their early years suffer in their personality development, research has found.

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However, there is a notable divide between children from less advantaged families and those with better educated parents.

Their non-cognitive traits, which can include problem-solving abilities, confidence, emotional health and social skills, could be held back.

By three years of age the child can end up suffering detrimental effects if their mother is out at work, the Growing Up in Ireland conference in Dublin was told.

However, UCD researcher Therese McDonnell said there is no evidence of this happening in the early-stage development of children whose mothers are well educated.

Many children in informal childcare at nine months old, particularly with grandparents, are more likely to have behavioural difficulties at age three.

She was speaking as Minister for Children James Reilly launched the latest phase of the Growing Up in Ireland study. The study showed there is no difference, at age five, in the learning skills of children minded in a crèche at the age of three and those cared for at home. Some 9,000 children are being tracked.

The conference was also told that parents who believe their neighbourhoods are unsafe are more likely to have children spending more time on computers.

Mira Dobutowitsch of Maynooth University said in recent years there has been a considerable change in the nature of children's pastime activities, due particularly to the increased used of technology and the fall in perceived "safe areas" to play.

Preliminary results of a study of children aged nine to 13 years show that 70pc of the younger age group spent at least one hour daily using technology. This is despite their own self-reported preference for physically active play.

The use is even higher when they are aged nine, and greater again at 13. Around 60pc of this age group spend three hours a day on technology.

"Higher technology use at age nine is associated with higher BMI scores and with greater social and emotional difficulties at the age of 13," the gathering was told.

Another study, by Richard Layte of Trinity College, revealed that asthma, eczema and rhinitis, including hayfever, is linked to their mother's stress levels during pregnancy.

He said 11pc of mothers in the infant cohort of the Growing Up in Ireland study said their children had asthma, eczema or other respiratory allergies at the age of five.

They included 13.2pc of boys and 8.6pc of girls. Women who experienced a "great deal of stress" during pregnancy had a higher probability of a child suffering from these kind of conditions.

A further study, from Catherine Hayes of Trinity College, found that nine-year-olds who are bullied are more likely to utilise healthcare services.

Doctors need to be aware of the prevalence of bullying and be vigilant about medically unexplained symptoms, the report added.

Irish Independent

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