Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mother's depression a risk factor in childhood asthma symptoms, study suggests

Date:
November 20, 2009
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Summary:
Maternal depression can worsen asthma symptoms in their children, according to new research.

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

Related Articles


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

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

"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 psychologist 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, researchers 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."

Researchers 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 treatment 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 treatment 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, researchers say, while providing a clear treatment 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, according to the CDC.

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

Researchers 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 researchers say the effect of caregiver depression on a child's asthma likely transcends demographics.

The research was funded by the National Heart Lung Blood Institute.

Other Hopkins researchers involved in the study included Michelle Eakin, Ph.D., Lisa Arceneaux, Psy.D., Cynthia Rand, Ph.D.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Mother's depression a risk factor in childhood asthma symptoms, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091119194122.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. (2009, November 20). Mother's depression a risk factor in childhood asthma symptoms, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091119194122.htm
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Mother's depression a risk factor in childhood asthma symptoms, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091119194122.htm (accessed March 30, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, March 30, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) A popular class of antibiotic can leave patients in severe pain and even result in permanent nerve damage. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

WH Plan to Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Germs

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) The White House on Friday announced a five-year plan to fight the threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria amid fears that once-treatable germs could become deadly. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) In rare bipartisan harmony, congressional leaders pushed a $214 billion bill permanently blocking physician Medicare cuts toward House passage Thursday, moving lawmakers closer to resolving a problem that has plagued them for years. (March 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins