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 and colleagues analyzed hospitalization 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.
More than 2,600 poisonings, 6,000 fractures and 4,200 burns were
reported. Children had a 52 percent higher poisoning rate, for
example, during depression episodes, a 63 percent higher poisoning
rate during anxiety episodes, and a 230 percent higher poisoning
rate during depression with anxiety episodes.
Similar to poisonings, fractures and burns were highest during
combined depression and anxiety episodes.
“Due to depression or mental illness, these households often aren’t
kept hazard-free and don’t safely store poisonous or sharp objects.
Young children may also be able to access dangerous areas of the
home such as stairways and windows,” said Kieran Phelan of
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio, who wasn’t involved in the
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In the U.S., unintentional injuries may be particularly common in
low-income households that don’t have access to healthcare, unlike
the families who have universal healthcare access in Britain, he
“That’s likely to get worse in the U.S. over the next few years,
given current talks of changing the healthcare system,” Phelan told
Reuters Health. “It’ll make it more difficult for low-income and
working moms to get insurance.”
One limitation of the study is that the researchers relied on
hospitalization data and mental illness diagnoses. Many injuries
likely go unreported, and many mothers likely have depression or
anxiety but aren’t diagnosed by doctors, the study authors write in
the journal Injury Prevention. The British database used for the
study also didn’t link the health data for children to fathers or
“New studies are looking at the associations between paternal mental
health and childhood injury, and we’re seeing that higher paternal
involvement reduces injuries,” said Takeo Fujiwara of Tokyo Medical
and Dental University in Japan, who wasn’t involved with the study.
“To prevent childhood injuries, we need to take care of mothers and
other caregivers in terms of mental health,” Fujiwara told Reuters
Health. “Few studies focus on how to really help our caregivers.”
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2mdSiF6 Injury Prevention, online February 23,
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