The parents of children of children with disabilities have a higher risk of developing chronic health conditions and depression, says a new study announced on Feb. 3, 2014, by the University of Limerick in Ireland. The parents also had higher rates of chronic health conditions such as metabolic and respiratory diseases.
Researchers studied parents whose children had intellectual and learning disabilities and found that 15 percent were diagnosed as depressed. Less than half said they were being treated for depression. The data came from the Growing up in Ireland study, a nationally representative sample of more than 8,500 nine-year-old Irish children. The results were compared to typical parents who did not have children with disabilities.
“The study took into account differences in demographics and pre-existing ill health before the birth of the child between the two groups of parents but found that one of the main contributing factors to the increased risk of depression was parental reports of child problem behaviours such as hyperactivity,” Study co-author, Professor Ailish Hannigan of the Graduate Entry Medical School said.
“Providing care to a child with a disability can often be very stressful,” said study co-author, Dr Stephen Gallagher of the Department of Psychology at University of Limerick. When parents lack the resources to manage the difficult situations they are experiencing their health is likely to suffer. Moreover, if their condition goes untreated the ill-effects can extend beyond the parent to influence the whole family. Supporting these families may not only bring health benefits to the parents but indirectly benefit the whole family.”
The study was published in the international journal “Research in Developmental Disabilities.”