Saturday, 16 May 2015


Health risks appear to be greatest for single mothers in later life. Single motherhood is associated with an increased risk of multiple health problems, including adverse cardiovascular episodes, poor mental health and increased mortality.

Women who have been single mothers for any period are more at risk of physical disability and poor health in later life in comparison with women who have raised children with a partner. This association is greatest among single mothers in the US, England, Denmark and Sweden. The existence of strong social support in certain countries may explain why the associations are not as strong in some geographic regions. In regions such as Southern Europe, the cultural emphasis placed on family solidarity means that single motherhood is not associated with any increased health risks.

The following women are at particular risk:
  • Those who become single mothers before the age of 20
  • Those who become single mothers through divorce
  • Those who are single mothers for 8 or more years
  • Those who raise two or more children.
These conclusion indicates selection and causation in "cycles of disadvantage." For example, the risk of single motherhood is increased by poverty, which may reflect previous health disadvantages. Being a lone mother may hamper women's abilities to gain education, accrue careers and accumulate income, also leading to poorer health.

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