Parenthood and Parental Leave Decisions in Pediatric Residency

Pediatrics. 2021 Oct;148(4):e2021050107. doi: 10.1542/peds.2021-050107. Epub 2021 Sep 28.


Objectives: The demands of residency training may impact trainees' decision to have children. We examined characteristics of pediatric residents' decisions regarding childbearing, determinants of resident parental leave, and associations with well-being.

Methods: A survey of 845 pediatric residents at 13 programs was conducted between October 2019 and May 2020. Survey items included demographics, desire for future children, and logistics of parental leave. Outcomes included parental leave length, burnout and depression screening results, satisfaction with duration of breastfeeding, and satisfaction with parental leave and parenthood decisions.

Results: Seventy-six percent (639 of 845) of residents responded to the survey. Fifty-two percent (330) of respondents reported delaying having children during residency, and 29% (97) of those were dissatisfied with their decision to do so. Busy work schedule (89.7%), finances (50.9%), and a desire not to extend residency (41.2%) were the most common reasons for delay. Of respondents, 16% were parents and 4% were pregnant or had pregnant partners. Sixty-one parental leaves were reported, and 67% of parents reported dissatisfaction with leave length. The most frequently self-reported determinant of leave duration was the desire not to extend residency training (74%). Program mean leave length was negatively associated with burnout, measured as a dichotomous outcome (odds ratio = 0.81 [95% confidence interval 0.68-0.98]; P = .02).

Conclusions: Many pediatric trainees delay parenthood during residency and are not satisfied with their decision to do so. Pediatric resident parental leave remains short and variable in duration, despite the positive association between longer leaves and overall well-being.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding
  • Burnout, Professional
  • Decision Making
  • Depression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parental Leave*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Pediatrics / organization & administration*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Support
  • Time Factors