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Working Mothers 'damage Their Child's Health'

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Working mothers are harming their children's long-term development by sending them to nursery from an early age, a leading author said yesterday.


Michael Morpurgo, the former children's laureate, sparked controversy by saying that it was "utterly extraordinary" that half of mothers with children under five had jobs outside the home.


He said lack of contact between children and parents was directly to blame for rising levels of mental health problems, sleep disorders and anorexia in young people.


Mr Morpurgo, recently awarded an OBE for services to literature, said: "It is utterly extraordinary now how many children grow up without their mothers around them. You have got 50 per cent of mothers these days of children under five who are employed outside the home. Well, you are cutting off something there, whether you like it or not, and it may be an uncomfortable thing to recognise."


He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that sending children to school at four or five was


"We pack our children off to care groups or even to school, but many countries in Europe do not send their children until they are seven," he said. "They live in the bosom of their family. That is where they are nurtured – within the nest. That is where they can grow their wings, they can learn to fly." He added: "I don't think it is an accident that one in 10 of our children is suffering from mental health problems, from sleep disorders, from eating disorders and things like that."


In October, an eminent group of child care experts raised concerns about the long-term effect of placing children in inadequate day nurseries. In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, they said that separating children from their mothers risked "storing up behavioural difficulties".


Last year, research by Professor Michael Lamb, of Cambridge University, found that nurseries caused distress to young children. He found that levels of the stress hormone cortisol doubled in youngsters during the first nine days of child care without their mothers present and continued to be much higher among children five months after starting nursery compared with those who stayed at home.






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