Associations between birth health, maternal employment, and child care arrangement among a community sample of mothers with young children

Soc Work Public Health. 2014;29(1):42-53. doi: 10.1080/19371918.2011.619465.

Abstract

Although a large body of literature exists on how different types of child care arrangements affect a child's subsequent health and sociocognitive development, little is known about the relationship between birth health and subsequent decisions regarding type of nonparental child care as well as how this relationship might be influenced by maternal employment. This study used data from the Los Angeles Families and Neighborhoods Survey (L.A.FANS). Mothers of 864 children (ages 0-5) provided information regarding birth weight, maternal evaluation of a child's birth health, child's current health, maternal employment, type of child care arrangement chosen, and a variety of socioeconomic variables. Child care options included parental care, relative care, nonrelative care, and daycare center. Multivariate analyses found that birth weight and subjective rating of birth health had similar effects on child care arrangement. After controlling for a child's age and current health condition, multinomial logit analyses found that mothers with children with poorer birth health are more likely to use nonrelative and daycare centers than parental care when compared to mothers with children with better birth health. The magnitude of these relationships diminished when adjusting for maternal employment. Working mothers were significantly more likely to use nonparental child care than nonemployed mothers. Results suggest that a child's health early in life is significantly but indirectly related to subsequent decisions regarding child care arrangements, and this association is influenced by maternal employment. Development of social policy aimed at improving child care service should take maternal and family backgrounds into consideration.

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight
  • Child Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child Welfare / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Data Collection
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Family
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Los Angeles
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Qualitative Research
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Socioeconomic Factors