Physicians support paid parental leave to boost health outcomes

Sara Berg, MS , Senior News Writer

Increases in paid parental leave were associated with drops in perinatal, neonatal, post-neonatal, infant, and child mortality in a sample of industrialized countries, according to research cited in an AMA Board of Trustees report. 

Unpaid maternal leave provided through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 in the U.S. has also been linked to mortality drops, but only among women who were married and had graduated from college. This suggests that lower-income families didn’t see the same benefit from unpaid leave. Now the AMA will work to change that. 

Related Coverage

Highlights from the 2019 AMA Annual Meeting

Only about 38% of employers offer paid parental leave for employees who are new parents, notes an AMA Board of Trustees report whose recommendations were adopted.  

The AMA House of Delegates adopted policy to: 

  • Encourage employers to offer or expand paid parental leave policies.  
  • Encourage state medical associations to work with their state legislatures to establish and promote parental leave policies.  
  • Advocate improved social and economic support for paid family leave to care for newborns, infants and young children. 
  • Advocate federal tax incentives to support early child care and unpaid child care by extended family members.  

The AMA already has policy to encourage medical group practices to incorporate “development of leave policies, including parental, family and medical leave policies, as part of the physician’s standard benefit agreement.”