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Nonstandard Maternal Work Schedules & Child Health in Impoverished Families

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Nonstandard maternal work schedules or those that exist outside the Monday thru Friday, 8 - 5 norm interfere with optimal child health and development during the first years of life. Parents in impoverished families, particularly mothers, are over-represented in jobs requiring a nonstandard schedule raising concerns that poor children, who are already at risk for poor health outcomes, face additional threats to health and well-being that undermines school readiness and creates a foundation for health disparities across the lifespan. Research to date has not examined the added risk that nonstandard maternal work schedules place on poor children's health and well-being. The goal of this project is to understand the threat of nonstandard maternal work schedules to poor children's physical and emotional well-being. To achieve this goal and inform potential policy solutions to the threat, this project will collect prospective data from a randomly selected community-based cohort of economically disadvantaged mothers of infants (N=450) to: 1) Delineate differences in physical health and emotional well- being at 30 months among children living in poverty whose mothers had a nonstandard schedule job in the first year relative to those whose mothers had a standard work schedule; 2) Quantify the degree to which variation in parenting practices and maternal well-being explain differences in the physical health and emotional well- being of children living in poverty by maternal work schedules; and 3) Identify individual, familial, and social factors that serve as protective factors for children living in poverty among mothers working a nonstandard work schedule during their infants' first year of life.. The project will recruit mother-infant dyads when children are 3 months of age and follow them until children are 30 months. Hypotheses related to each specific aim will be tested by fitting linear mixed effects models to account for the correlation among outcomes assessed over time. Project results will provide needed information to help protect at risk children.
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