Press Release

New Information on Motherhood
And its Impact on Womens Health

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June 27, 2001 Washington, DC The cumulative burden of multiple causes of stress such as being poor, uninsured, less educated, employed full-time or being a single mother relates to worse health, higher levels of depression and fewer opportunities to obtain health care. Multiple causes of stress seem to have a stronger effect on mothers than on non-mothers. These are among the findings in "Motherhood, Health Status and Health Care," by Amy Bernstein, ScD of the National Center for Health Statistics.

The paper, published by the Jacobs Institute of Womens Health in the May/June edition of Womens Health Issues, re-examines the Commonwealth Fund 1998 Survey of Womens Health, a leading source of information on the ways that womens circumstances, roles and responsibilities influence their health. The author examined the impact of multiple roles and stressors on women of childbearing age and compared the health status of women with and without children and their ability to access health care.

"It is more problematic to be poor, uninsured or to lack social support when you have dependents than when you do not, because more family members are sharing the limited resources," said Bernstein. "The results of this study reinforce the need for comprehensive public policy approaches for women and their families."

"The Commonwealth Fund Survey contains a wealth of information, now being published for the first time, regarding the treatment and care of women," said Martha Romans, Executive Director of the Jacobs Institute. "These findings provide important information on how both mothers and women without children are affected by the stress in their lives."

Additional findings in the new paper include:

  • Mothers are poorer than women in households with no children.
  • Mothers are more likely to report having a Pap test and a breast exam in the last three years than women with no children.
  • Mothers in poverty are more likely to work full-time than their childless counterparts.
  • Divorced women with children report the poorest health in the non-poverty group, followed by women who have never been married with children.

Other papers in the May/June edition of Womens Health Issues address: womens health issues across the lifespan; the influence of income, education and work status on womens well being; caregiving: challenges and implications for womens health; managed care and womens health: access, preventive services and satisfaction; midlife women making hormone therapy decisions; psychological distress, unmet need and barriers to mental health care for women; and prevalence of violence and its implications for womens health.

Womens Health Issues is the official publication of The Jacobs Institute of Womens Health, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the knowledge, practice and understanding of womens health by making Americas health care system work better for women. For the next few years, the Jacobs Institute is placing an emphasis on managed care, heart disease and menopause cutting edge issues that affect womens health and lives.


NOTE: Review copies of the articles are available to media from Ridgely Benjamin at 202/371-1999.

For Immediate Release

For more information contact:
Ridgely Benjamin