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Health & Pregnancy

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Family Trend? 2 Kids, Different Dads

More Than a Quarter of U.S. Mothers With 2 or More Children Conceived Them With Different Men, Study Finds

Second Opinion

The new numbers are much higher than those from previous research, says Donna Ginther, PhD, a professor of economics at the University of Kansas who has also researched the topic.

She says the new figures may be more accurate because the survey followed women for a longer period of time.

The research, Ginther says, provides a more complete picture of the ''multiple partner fertility'' pattern and its links with a number of poor outcomes for women.

Although it's difficult to separate cause and effect, she says her own research shows the pattern is linked with worse outcomes for the children. "This is not to say that every parent who has children with multiple partners is dooming their child for a poor outcome," she says.

The family pattern is complicated, says Karen Benjamin Guzzo, PhD, assistant professor of anthropology and sociology at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. She also has researched the topic.

For instance, how well the co-parents who used to be in a relationship get along can affect parenting behavior, including financial support, she tells WebMD.

Despite the complexity, she says, most mothers have the same goals for their children, whether they were fathered by one man or multiple men. "They love their children and want what's best for them."

Her advice for women whose children have different fathers: "Make sure all children feel equally loved and that they all feel equally part of the family."

The study was supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Child Health and Development, the Center for Research on Diverse Family Contexts, and the Joan Huber and William Form Research Fund.

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