Putting babies and toddlers in day care could be detrimental to their development and future health, a new paper has warned.
But the article’s author says it’s a touchy subject to discuss because of feminism and political correctness.
The paper, written by psychologist Dr Aric Sigman, cited studies showing that children in day care had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
This means that they could be more susceptible to minor ailments in the short term, while in the long term they could be at greater risk of more serious problems like heart disease.
The increased cortisol levels only appeared until around the age of three but Dr Sigman warned that the child’s brain develops rapidly during these early years.
Dr Sigman, a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, said: “The uncomfortable question remains: which is better for a young child during weekdays – the biological mother or a paid carer at an institution?”
He added: “The effects of day-care on the child continues to be discussed through the prism of adult sexual politics and women’s rights.
“This has been a significant impediment, involving a serious conflict of interest: Women’s rights and self-fulfilment are not the same issue as a child’s well-being and may often compete for precedence.”
Dr Sigman’s findings were published in an article for journal The Biologist.
But Dorothy Bishop, professor of developmental neuropsychology at Oxford University, said: “There is broad consensus that day-care influences cortisol levels in the short term, but there is no evidence that this has long-term detrimental consequences.”
Last year British actress Emma Thompson spoke out against the pressure to be a great mum and have a full-time career.
Speaking to the US edition of Good Housekeeping magazine, the actress said: “I don’t want your readers ever to think they have to have it all. I think that’s a revolting concept. It’s so false!”
Miss Thompson added: “You can’t be a great mom and work the whole time necessarily; those two things aren’t ideal.”