Single motherhood between the ages of 16 and 49 is linked to poorer health in later life in several different countries, reveals a new research.
Analysis of responses from over 25,000 women aged above 50 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.
It indicated that women who became single mothers before the age of 20 or as the result of divorce were at particular risk of disability and poor health in later life.
"Lone parenthood may hamper a woman's ability to get qualifications, have a career and earn enough money, which may itself lead to poorer health," the researchers said.
The associations were stronger for single mothers in England, the US, Denmark and Sweden.
Single motherhood was less consistently associated with health in Western, Eastern, and Southern European countries.
"Social support may partially explain the associations between single motherhood and health," they said.
In Southern European countries which have a strong family culture, single motherhood was not linked to increased health risks.
"The findings add to the growing recognition that single motherhood may have long term health effects on mothers," the authors wrote.
As lone motherhood is on the rise in many countries, policies addressing health disadvantages of lone mothers may be essential to improving women's health and reducing disparities.
The paper appeared online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.