Research — 24 January 2013
First time parents get mental health boost

First-time parents enjoy improved mental health and reduced psychological stress after their baby is born, according to new research.

The finding comes from a University of Otago study of 6670 new married, single and co-habitating parents.

Researchers discovered becoming a parent for the first time was good news for mothers and fathers. This differs from overseas research, which showed major differences between the results for women and men.

The reason for the link between first-time parents and improved mental health was unknown, said the researchers.

The study took into account partner status, employment, deprivation and household income, but more research was needed to examine changes in socio-economic factors when a child comes along and how these affect new parents, according to research Sarah McKenzie.

However, they found there was no impact on mental health when parents had subsequent children.

The study was published in the international Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

As first appeared in the New Zealand Herald, 22 January 2013.

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