Single mothers may face poorer health

Single mothers may be more likely to have health problems as they reach older age than women who are married, according to a new study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Researchers looked at data from several surveys about health and aging that included more than 25,000 women over age 50 from the U.S., England, and 13 European countries. The women who seemed most impacted were those who had children before age 18, were single parents for more than eight years, or had two or more children. These women “have a difficult time performing…things like climbing up stairs, getting around, cooking,” lead author Lisa Berkman, director of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies (the Pop Center) and Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and of Epidemiology at Harvard Chan School, told NBC’s on May 15, 2015.

Although the study didn’t address the reason for these health issues, Berkman thinks it could be due to stress. “These things take a long time to develop and what happens with single moms is it’s much more likely that it’s the ‘drip drip drip’ of daily stress that takes a toll on their health,” she told

Other Harvard Chan School researchers involved in the study included senior author Erika Sabbath, Maria Glymour, and Mauricio Avendano of the Pop Center.

Read the Today article: ‘Drip, drip, drip’ of daily stress: Single parenting takes health toll