London, July 5 : Children born to single women without a partner appeared to enjoy a similar parent-child relationship as those in heterosexual two-parent families, researchers say.
Fertility treatment for single women -- who wish to become pregnant without a partner (i.e., single mothers by choice) -- is an increasingly popular procedure in most European countries.
The study showed that there were no significant differences in emotional involvement or parental stress between family types.
Single-mothers-by-choice, however, showed significantly higher scores on the social support -- such as parents, other family, friends, neighbours -- they received, but also on wanting more social support.
There were no significant differences in the children's internal and external problem behaviour (well-being) between both family types, the researchers said.
"Single-mothers-by-choice and their children benefit from a good social support network, and this should be emphasised in the counselling of women who want to have and raise a child without a partner," said Mathilde Brewaeys from the VU University Medical Centre, in the Netherlands.
The results were presented at the annual meeting of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in Geneva.
Experts had raised concerns about the well-being and development of children born to single-mothers-by-choice.
However, it seems likely that any negative influence on child development depends more on a troubled parent-child relationship and not on the absence of a father, the researchers said.
"The assumption that growing up in a family without a father is not good for the child is based mainly on research into children whose parents are divorced and who thus have experienced parental conflict," Brewaeys explained.
For the study, the team compared 69 single-mothers-by-choice (who had knowingly chosen to raise their child alone) and 59 mothers from heterosexual two-parent families with a child between 1.5 and 6 years.