Print Edition - 2017-03-09  |  Health and Living

Children of depressed mothers at risk for unintentional injuries

  • Children’s health

Mar 9, 2017-

Children under age five are more likely to accidentally get injured if their mothers are having a depression or anxiety episode, according to a study. The rates of child poisonings, small fractures and minor burns increased during these episodes—with poisonings more than doubled when mothers suffered both depression and anxiety—but there was no link to more severe injuries such as third-degree burns or femur fractures, researchers found. “Maternal depression and anxiety are common. Maternal well-being is key to giving children a good start in life, affecting their emotional and physical health,” said lead author Ruth Baker of the University of Nottingham.

“Injuries are still one of the leading preventable causes of death in preschool children, yet few studies have examined whether maternal mental illnesses affect that risk,” she told Reuters Health by email. “Most studies focus on depression alone.” Baker analysed hospitalisation data for more than 200,000 children born between 1998 and 2013 and followed them from birth through their fifth birthdays. They also identified episodes of depression and anxiety in each mother’s primary care record, as well as prescriptions for antidepressants and anxiety medications. The research team focused on poisonings, fractures and burns as the three most common preventable injuries in young children. They found that a fourth of mothers experienced one or more depression or anxiety episodes, and unintentional injuries were higher during these periods. “Due to depression or mental illness, these households often aren’t kept hazard-free and don’t safely store poisonous or sharp objects,” said Kieran Phelan of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Ohio.

Published: 09-03-2017 09:21

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