Allergy-triggered disorders, like asthma and eczema, are some of the most common problems children face. These disorders also put children at a higher risk of anxiety and depression, according to a new study from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. However, there are also other factors that contribute to this relationship, one of which is parental treatment. According to the study, a mother's levels of anxiety and depression also help control symptoms of asthma and eczema in her children. This information could change the way we treat asthma and eczema. It also encourages parents to seek help for anxiety and depression because not doing so could negatively impact their children.

Measuring Asthma, Eczema, Anxiety, and Depression

Data was withdrawn from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a study which tracked data of 7,000 mothers from the time they gave birth to the time their children were seven or eight years old. Mothers reported their child's wheezing and rash symptoms eight times throughout their childhood. Mothers were also asked to report internalizing behaviors—like anxiety and depression— and externalizing behaviors—oppositional and hyperactive behaviors—in their children through the Goodman Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Anxiety and depression levels in mothers were measured through the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, Crown-Crisp Experiential Index, and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory.

A statistical analysis of the data revealed that both rash and wheezing status were connected to a child's well-being when he or she was eight years old. A persistent rash or persistent wheezing that occurred later in a child's life was associated with internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Additionally, maternal anxiety and depression accounted for the association between persistent late onset rash and anxiety and depression in children. This means that a mother's mental health directly impacts a child's well-being.

How It Affects Asthma and Eczema Treatment

While other studies have confirmed the impact that asthma and eczema has on the mental health of children, this is the first study to add a mother's mental health into the mix. This new information shows that anxiety and depression are multi-factorial. Yes, asthma and eczema are linked to anxiety and depression, but so are a mother's anxiety and depression levels. With mental health issues, nothing is black and white. In order to get to the root of anxiety and depression, therapists must keep all of these factors in mind.

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Sigal Sharf, MS



Alison Teyhan, Bruna Galobardes, John Henderson. Child Allergic Symptoms and Mental Well-Being: The Role of Maternal Anxiety and Depression. The Journal of Pediatrics, September 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.05.023

Date of original publication: