Although it sounds kind of like a cautionary tale that a 1950s mom would tell her daughters ("If you get 'in trouble,' you better get married, or else you will exploooooooode!"), a new study in The American Journal of Public Health has determined that there needs to be more research into the health detriments and benefits of marriage vs. cohabitation when it comes to pregnant women and their partners.
The study examined three groups of over 6,000 women: cohabiting women, both married and nonmarried women living with a partner, and noncohabiters were single, divorced, or separated women and further categorized by duration of cohabitation. They were asked about three main psychosocial conditions: self-reported intimate partner violence, substance abuse, and postpartum depression among childbearing women. 20% of the cohabitating but unmarried women reported at least one of the three conditions; the figure rises to 35% in unmarried single mothers and 67% in women who had gotten divorced or separated the year before the child was born.
The odds of intimate partner violence, substance use, and postpartum depression were higher in unmarried women cohabiting for ≤2 years, versus married women living with a partner >5 years.
Marcelo Urquia, the lead researcher of the Canadian epidemiological study, said that there's not enough information yet to draw any firm conclusion on the benefit of marriage on maternal and child health, but it's worth looking into further.
'Do pregnant women benefit from marriage over cohabitation?' [Modern Medicine]
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