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Mother's depression a risk factor in childhood asthma symptoms, study suggests
Date:11/19/2009

Maternal depression can worsen asthma symptoms in their children, according to 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 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 depressio
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Contact: Ekaterina Pesheva
epeshev1@jhmi.edu
410-516-4996
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert  

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