Single mothers in England were found to be more likely to suffer poor health later on in life in an international study of women over 50.
Researchers compared more than 25,000 women in England, the United States and 13 European countries, to see if single motherhood is most damaging in countries with relatively weak social safety nets, such as the US and England.
Researchers said women with past experiences of single motherhood had lower income and wealth, and were less likely to be married as older adults compared with consistently married mothers.
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Analysis of the responses indicated that any period of single motherhood was linked to a greater risk of some level of physical disability and poor health in later life than dual parenthood.
They found the risks were greatest for lone mothers in England, the US, Denmark and Sweden, suggesting social support was a big factor.
The study was led by Harvard Centre for Population and Development Studies in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is published in the BMJ.
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