Mother’s Anxiety or Depression Affects Her Child’s Quality of Life, Study Suggests

Mother’s Anxiety or Depression Affects Her Child’s Quality of Life, Study Suggests

A new study suggests that maternal anxiety and depression may affect the quality of life of children with cerebral palsy (CP).

The study, “Impact of Symptoms of Maternal Anxiety and Depression on Quality of Life of children with Cerebral Palsy,” was recently published in the journal Archives of Neuropsychiatry.

CP is a leading cause of physical disability.  A heterogenous condition, it causes motor and sensory impairment, negatively affecting quality of life (QOL). However, that QOL in CP patients is multidimensional, and can be affected by other variables, including the person’s specific type of CP, cognitive function, and other medical disorders.

Parental mental health also needs to be considered, as parents often report on perceived QOL in their children. Despite recognition that parental mental health appears to be one of the most important psychosocial factors in parent-rated QOL, limited studies have been conducted into the relationship between parental mental health and parent proxy-reports on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in children with CP.

To investigate the impact of maternal depression and anxiety on HRQOL in children with CP as reported by their parents, researchers obtained HRQOL scores on 97 CP patients. Participants were 7-18 years old, and assessed using the Pediatric QOL Inventory, Parent Version (PedsQL-P). Maternal depression and anxiety symptoms were assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), respectively.

Results showed that maternal BAI and BDI scores had a negative effect on PedsQL-P scores, meaning that maternal anxiety and depression negatively affected how mothers reported on their children’s quality of life.

Interestingly, male gender, severity of intellectual disability, and higher mothers’ BAI scores had a negative impact on PedsQL-P physical scores; and severity of intellectual disability and higher mothers’ BDI scores had negative effects on the PedsQL-P psychosocial scores.

“In conclusion … the data reported by this study may allow clinicians to gain a better understanding of the factors associated with parent-rated HRQOL in children with CP. This study suggests that the improvement of mothers’ psychiatric status affects the well-being of their children with CP,” the researchers concluded, adding that “Further research in longitudinal studies that include larger samples and both parents as participants is necessary.”

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James Frederick is a practicing Physician Associate (PA-C, MMSc) who studied at Yale University. He also has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and English Literature from the University of Colorado. He specializes in writing medical content that is approachable, readable and enjoyable. He has a strong background in research, physiology, pharmacotherapy, emergency medicine and critical care medicine. In his free time, he enjoys spending time camping and traveling with his wife and dog.

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