Watercooler: Stay-at-home moms younger, poorer; Flu shots

STAY-AT-HOME MOMS: Move over, June Cleaver. Stay-at-home moms today are more likely to be younger, lower income, Hispanic or foreign born than their working counterparts.

New census data collected by the U.S. government on families and households compared married stay-at-home mothers with other married women — who either worked themselves, had husbands who didn’t work or did not cite caring for home and family as the reason they didn’t work. There were 24 million of the couples with children under the age of 15 in 2007. Of them, 24 percent included a stay-at-home mother, which the census defined as a woman who said her husband worked while she stayed home in order to care for her family.

The stay-at-home moms were also more likely to have younger children and less education than working mothers.

Just 5.1 percent of working moms were below poverty level in 2006, while 12.3 percent of stay-at-home moms fell into that category. That is at least partly because the stay-at-home moms belonged to one-income families, while working mothers are part of a dual-income household, the report said.

What about stay-at-home dads? The census data showed 165,000 such fathers in 2007, or less than 0.1 percent of married-parent families with young children.

Families with two parents in the labor force were most common in the Midwest and Northeast, with the exception of New York. Such families were least likely to live in the West and Southwest, excluding Nevada and Oregon.

Data was collected in February, March and April 2007.

FLU WATCH: Parents agree: Making sure kids wash hands and eat right is very important for keeping them healthy during swine flu season. Getting vaccinated? Not so much.

According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, 41 percent of parents said they would definitely have their child vaccinated for the seasonal flu, and 22 percent said they definitely would not. For swine flu, only 35 percent said they would definitely try to get their child vaccinated, 14 percent definitely would not, and half said “it will depend.”

But 57 percent of parents were still concerned about their child getting sick with swine flu.

The swine flu vaccines are new — the Food and Drug Administration gave its OK in mid-September — but they are made the same way as regular seasonal flu vaccine, which has minor side effects. Regulators say there have been no safety issues in studies of several thousand people.

The Centers for Disease Control says the vaccine’s effectiveness varies, depending on the age and health of the person receiving it, and the similarity between the virus in the vaccine and the viruses striking people ill.

Of those parents who were unsure about the swine flu vaccine for their children or didn’t plan to get it for them, 65 percent said they were concerned about the newness of the vaccine.

Those surveyed noted some other techniques, outside of vaccination, that were “very important” for keeping their kids healthy during flu season:

■ 92 percent cited frequent hand-washing

■ 89 percent mentioned healthful eating

■ 83 percent cited adequate sleep and rest

■ 68 percent noted avoidance of sick kids

Meanwhile, 41 percent said it was “very important” to have children vaccinated for flu.

Small rollouts of swine flu vaccinations begin this week.

Respondents were polled throughout Sept. 2-7, with 1,502 interviews completed via random digit dialing of cell phone and landlines. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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