Support for mothers with learning difficulties may benefit their children’s wellbeing

Mums living with learning and developmental disabilities tend to be less well-off, have chaotic home lives and report poorer mental health during their children’s early years.

Findings from Child of the New Century (CNC) showed that these factors have a negative impact on children’s social and emotional wellbeing.

Researchers explained that it was the disadvantages these families faced, not the mothers’ disabilities, that negatively affected children’s wellbeing.

Researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia analysed information on more than 18,000 CNC study members from across the UK.

When you were 9 months old, we asked your mothers about their own health and schooling. This information was used to determine whether they had learning or developmental disabilities. Only a very small number of mothers had such difficulties.

When you were 3, 5 and 7, we also asked your mothers about your wellbeing, behaviour and your relationships with friends.

The researchers found that mothers with learning and developmental disabilities were more likely than other mums to live in poverty. When their children were 3, they were also more likely to have poorer mental health and hectic home lives.

At ages 3 and 5, children of mothers with learning difficulties tended to have emotional and behavioural issues. At 5 and 7, they were also more likely to feel left out by their friends.

The report said that improving the living conditions of mothers with learning and developmental disabilities may offer a path to better wellbeing for their children.