[Original: UPI] For each additional month a woman has paid maternity leave, infant mortality decreases by more than 10 percent, according to a new study of births in 20 countries.
Researchers at McGill University and the University of California Los Angeles found paid maternity leave has a significant impact on infant mortality in low- and high-income countries, echoing previous research that has shown the same.
Paid maternity leave reduces stress, increases the chances for breastfeeding and other infant care, and allows a mother to seek more medical attention for herself after having a baby.
Although 188 countries have guaranteed paid leave for new mothers, though how much varies greatly from country to country — in Canada and some European countries, women get one year of paid time off, while countries such as Papua New Guinea, Suriname and the United States have no guaranteed paid maternity leave.
“While this study focuses on low- and middle-income countries, the impact in high-income countries is also well demonstrated,” Dr. Jody Heymann, a former researcher at McGill and dean of the School of Public Health at the University of California Los Angeles, in a press release. “For the health of our children and the well-being of families, the U.S. needs to catch up with most of the world and ensure all new parents have paid parental leave.”