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Childcare reduces stress levels for kids with working mums

Low job satisfaction in working mothers increases the stress levels of their children, but spending longer in childcare can help overcome these effects, new research has shown.

In a study involving more than 50 nursery school children, researchers found higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in children whose mothers found their jobs less rewarding, or left them feeling emotionally exhausted, than those who reported more enjoyment from their jobs.

Levels of cortisol in the evening were more than double in these children.

Yet for women who have low job satisfaction, the research suggests that placing their children in childcare would help to significantly reduce the stress experienced by their children.

The researchers also found that children from families that were either highly expressive or reserved also exhibited higher than average cortisol levels.

The report, published in the journal Developmental Psychobiology today (Monday 21 November 2005), suggests that greater support is needed for working mothers to help improve their job satisfaction and increase the availability of affordable childcare options.

The study was conducted by Dr Julie Turner-Cobb, a health psychologist and senior lecturer at the University of Bath, Dr Christina Chryssanthopoulou from the University of Kent and by Dr David Jessop, a neuroimmunologist at the University of Bristol.

To measure cortisol levels they took saliva samples in the morning and evening from 56 children aged three-four years old. They also surveyed mothers about their workplace conditions and home life over six months.

"Spending more time in childcare makes a big difference to the stress levels in children whose mothers have low job satisfaction," said Dr Julie Turner-Cobb from the University of Bath.

"It can help protect children from the effects of their mother's low job quality and emotional exhaustion. Ensuring that mothers of y
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Contact: Andrew McLaughlin
a.mclaughlin@bath.ac.uk
44-796-634-1357
University of Bath
20-Nov-2005


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