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Medicineworld.org: Depression in the mother and asthma in the child

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Depression in the mother and asthma in the child




Asthma symptoms can worsen in children with depressed mothers, as per research from Johns Hopkins Children's Center published online in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

Analyzing data from interviews with 262 mothers of African-American children with asthma - a population disproportionately affected by this inflammatory airway disorder - the Hopkins researchers observed that children whose mothers had more depressive symptoms had more frequent asthma symptoms during the six-months of the study. On the other hand, children whose mothers reported fewer depressive symptoms had less frequent asthma symptoms.

Scientists tracked ups and downs in maternal depression as correlation to the frequency of symptoms among children.



Depression in the mother and asthma in the child
Kristin Riekert, PhD

"Even though our research was not set up to measure just how much a mom's depression increased the frequency of her child's symptoms, a clear pattern emerged in which the latter followed the earlier," says senior investigator Kristin Riekert, Ph.D., a pediatric psychology expert and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Adherence Research Center.

But while maternal depression appeared to aggravate a child's asthma, the opposite was not true: How often a child had symptoms did not seem to affect the mother's depressive symptoms, an important finding that suggests maternal depression is an independent risk factor that can portend a child's symptoms, scientists say.

Past studies have shown that children with chronic health conditions fare worse if their primary caregiver is depressed, but none have teased out the exact interplay between the two.

"Intuitively, it may seem that we're dealing with a chicken-egg situation, but our study suggests otherwise," Riekert says. "The fact that mom's depression was not affected by how often her child had symptoms really caught us off guard, but it also suggested which factor comes first".

Scientists did not study why and how a mother's depression affects a child's asthma status, but because depression often involves fatigue, memory lapses and difficulty concentrating, it can affect a parent's ability to manage the child's chronic condition, which can involve daily, and sometimes complex, drug regimens and frequent visits to the doctor.

"Mom is the one who must implement the doctor's recommendations for therapy and follow-up, and if she is depressed she can't do it well, so the child will suffer," says lead investigator Michiko Otsuki, Ph.D., a behavioral medicine fellow at Johns Hopkins at the time of the study, now at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Investigators say their findings should prompt pediatricians who treat children with asthma to pay close attention to the child's primary caregiver - whether or not it is the mother - and screen and refer them for therapy if needed.

"We ask these parents if they are smokers all the time, so maybe it's time to start asking them if they are coping well emotionally," said co-investigator Arlene Butz, Sc.D., a pediatric asthma specialist at Johns Hopkins Children's Center. "Doctors are trained to pick up on subtle clues, so if they see a red flag in mom, they should follow-up with a depression screener and referral if needed".

Treating depressed mothers whose children are at high-risk for asthma complications will likely benefit both mother and child, scientists say, while providing a clear therapy target to help reduce the burden of asthma in the United States. Asthma is the country's leading pediatric chronic illness, affecting 6.5 million children under the age of 18, as per the CDC.

The Hopkins study included only mothers but researchers believe a similar pattern would emerge regardless of who the primary caregiver is.

Scientists caution that the mothers in their study were screened for depression with a standard questionnaire, which is a reliable detector of symptoms but not a firm diagnosis.

The Hopkins findings came from a high-risk, inner-city population and thus cannot be statistically extended to other ethnic and socioeconomic groups, but scientists say the effect of caregiver depression on a child's asthma likely transcends demographics.


Posted by: JoAnn    Source




Did you know?
Asthma symptoms can worsen in children with depressed mothers, as per research from Johns Hopkins Children's Center published online in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology. Analyzing data from interviews with 262 mothers of African-American children with asthma - a population disproportionately affected by this inflammatory airway disorder - the Hopkins researchers observed that children whose mothers had more depressive symptoms had more frequent asthma symptoms during the six-months of the study. On the other hand, children whose mothers reported fewer depressive symptoms had less frequent asthma symptoms.

Medicineworld.org: Depression in the mother and asthma in the child

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