Women who live near their mothers are more likely to get pregnant
Link remains when women are of same
age, income and social class, say Essex researchersThought the psychological boost of having nearby family members may improve a woman's fertility
14:24 GMT, 4 February 2013
15:54 GMT, 4 February 2013
Women trying to get pregnant are more likely to succeed if they live near their mothers or other close relatives.
Scientists at the University of Essex have found that if two British women of the same
age, income and social class are trying to get pregnant, then the one living nearer to her relatives is more likely to.
The researchers believe that having potential childcare close by helps a woman's psychological state, but say even they were surprised by the strength of the link.
Women trying to get pregnant are more likely to succeed if they live near their mothers or other close relatives
They looked at a series of studies carried out on nearly 2,000 women where records were kept on their fertility but also their lifestyle, health and social status.
This included questions about their relationship with their immediate family, their extended family and their networks of friends.
Those women trying for a baby and getting pregnant more quickly tended to have their family nearby, not just for their first child but for subsequent children, too.
Dr Paul Mathews from the University of Essex said: 'We were surprised that we actually found a significant effect.
It's thought that having potential childcare close by boosts a woman's fertility as she feels psychologically calmer
'We thought that maybe there might be a relationship, but we were surprised that the relationship remained even after we controlled for a whole myriad of social and economic background factors.
'Comparing two young women who have effectively the same income, education, religion, ethnicity, the young woman who is closer to her family still seems to find it significantly easier to have children.
'We know that having kin around is beneficial in terms of having children in high-fertility resource-poor populations, both in developing countries and in historical Europe.
'We were surprised that even in a very different setting, a modern technologically advanced society such as Britain, we still see the same pattern.'
Economically, having 'free' childcare
from a relative seems important to would-be mums, particularly for
mothers of one child to go on and have a second one.
Yet women may be fooling themselves
that this is the best option, said the researchers, for it could also be
preventing them from finding much better paid work in areas much
Mumsnet Founder Justine Roberts said: 'The support of extended family is important to the wellbeing of mothers after they've given birth.'