- (CNN) -- Young children in day care are slightly less
likely to bond well with their mothers than stay-at-home children, according
to newly released information from an ongoing federal study. But researchers,
hoping parents won't be alarmed unnecessarily, caution the results are
preliminary and say there's no way to judge how much time in day care may
be too much.
- The findings from the government's National Institute
of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care
are in the November issue of Developmental Psychology, published by the
American Psychological Association.
- Researchers began tracking nearly 1,300 young subjects
and their mothers in 1991 when the infants were 6 months old. Although
they're now in third grade, the newly released portion of the study only
covers the period from ages 6 months to 3 years.
- It found a "small but significant" link between
time spent in day care and how positively a child interacts with his/her
- Owens says working mothers should not quit their jobs
over the study findings
- "The more hours a child spends in child care, the
slightly less positive mother-child interaction is," said Margaret
Tresch Owen, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Dallas who helped
collect the data.
- But she conceded that researchers can't tell parents
at what point the bonding begins to deteriorate.
- "We don't have that finding and I wish we did,"
Owen told CNN. "I wish we could say, 'Here's the answer folks, 40
hours is fine and 50 hours is not fine.'"
- No need for working Moms to quit
- This latest day care report contradicts more positive
information about day care in years past. And with three out of five U.S.
preschoolers already in some form of child care, the findings may reinforce
the concerns of millions of parents worried that having their children
in day care may not be a wise decision.
- But researchers emphasize they see no cause for alarm
or any lasting impact on overall child development. In short, working mothers
don't need to quit their jobs, Owen said.
- The study findings may reinforce some concerns parents
have about putting their kids in day care
- Child care providers say parents should be more concerned
about the quality of care than the quantity of time a child spends away
- "I think you could probably get a study to say just
about anything you wanted it too," said <link.smith.jpgCheryl Smith,
director of the Downtown Child Development Center, a daycare facility in
- "I think the bonding between mother and child does
not have to be interrupted because of the child care arrangements that
you choose," she told CNN.
- The NICHD study will continue to follow the same test
subjects until next year, when they reach fourth grade.
- Correspondent Pat Etheridge contributed to this report.