INTRODUCTION:

A new British study suggests children brought up by stay-at-home mothers fare better than those whose mothers work. As Amy Katz reports it has re-ignited the long-time, controversial debate over who should care for young children.

NARRATOR:

The new study claims that babies do better on developmental tests if they are cared for by their mothers.

The results of an American study tell a different story. That research says when it comes to intellectual development, there is little consistent difference between children cared for by their mothers or other care givers.

Studies indicating that children being raised by their mothers fare better make working mothers -- like Kristina Hedley -- feel guilty.

KRISTINA HEDLEY:
"When these studies come out, you start to second guess yourself. Are you doing what is right for your child?"

NARRATOR:
Many American women chose to stay at home and take of their children. Ellie Wackerman works part time.

ELLIE WACKERMAN:
"I had a natural desire to really be there to really help them grow up."

NARRATOR:
Evelina Teglia is a stay-at-home mother.

EVELINA TEGLIA:
"I like being home. I think it is good for me and I think it is good for my kids."

NARRATOR:
Psychologist Margaret Burchinal says mothers who do work should not feel guilty.

MARGARET BURCHINAL:
"Whether the child goes to child care, or stays home exclusively with the mother, is not very related to how well the child does."

NARRATOR:
For investment banker Wendi Lomar, that is good news.

WENDY LOMAR:
"I know it is an old standby, but I still think it is quality over quantity."

NARRATOR:
For many mothers, staying home is not an option. They have to work. Some -- like Kristina Hedley -- are lucky enough to have on site child care.

KRISTINA HEDLEY:
"Not everybody has the opportunities or choices that I had to make."

NARRATOR:
Under U.S. federal law, many new mothers are given 12 weeks of maternity leave -- much of it without pay.

The story is a lot different in Sweden -- where new parents -- both mothers and fathers -- are given 18 months paid leave -- which they can take up until the child is eight years old. Amy Katz, VOA News.