Mothers' contact 'impacts on girls' pregnancy age'

Image caption, Girls separated from their mothers are likely to give birth up to two years earlier than others

A lack of maternal involvement with young girls can lead to them having babies at a younger age, a new study has suggested.

Experts from Newcastle University found this to be one of the early life factors which seem to have an impact on the age at which girls give birth.

Other links included short duration of breast feeding, frequent family housing moves and lack of paternal involvement.

The findings have been been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Researchers studied the records of nearly 4,500 women for all backgrounds and regions of the UK.

They found that girls who were separated from their mothers for a period of time in their first five years of life were likely to give birth to their own first child more two years earlier than those who had been in full contact throughout early childhood.

More stable

Dr Daniel Nettle, lead author of the study and reader in psychology at Newcastle University, said: "Interestingly, where the separation from the mother was more permanent, such as over 24 months, the effect goes away.

"The child whose mother has been away for 24 months or more is likely to have been adopted into a more stable family.

"This suggests that it is the security of attachment which has important effects on the developing child."

He added: "It is hard to show causality, we have controlled for various factors as much as we can and we believe these links are clear.

"The next step will be to examine the men from the same cohort."

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