Asthma Linked to Home Stress and Parental Depression
Asthma in children is often related to stress in the home according to recent research. Depression in parents is also linked to asthma according to scientists.
Asthma attacks and stress
Researchers from the Rush University Medical Center have found that stress in the home and depression among parents increase the risk of asthma and asthmatic attacks among children. Certainly depression among parents can also produce stress for the children.
The researchers – part of the Project CURA: The Community United to Challenge Asthma – investigated and studied the homes of Puerto Rican children between the ages of 5 and 18 years old with asthma within the city of Chicago. The research was funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.
Curiously, Puerto Rican children have a far greater risk of asthma than do white, black or hispanic children. An asthma study published in the Journal Pediatrics in 2006 found that 26% of Puerto Rican children had been diagnosed with asthma between 1997 and 2001 while only 12% of white children, 16% of black children, 12% of hispanic children had been diagnosed with asthma during the same period. This means that Puerto Rican children have more than double the asthma rates of most other children.
This of course has led researchers to try to discover why Puerto Rican children have such higher rates.
The researchers analyzed asthmatic children in six communities in Chicago. They recruited children and parents from schools and hospitals. Of the 229 children who were screened, 101 were randomized, with 51 being of elementary school age and 50 kids in high school.
The researchers assessed children with skin testing for allergy triggers and conducted saliva testing, while studying their trigger mechanisms using home studies.
The research found out that outside the factors related to medication use or allergic irritants in the home or school, more asthma diagnoses and more asthmatic attacks were attributed to caregiver (parent or otherwise) depression; parents or caregivers who were noticeably stressed (perceivable by the child); and among children and parents without private insurance.
The fact that these conditions were found to significantly affect the rate of asthma attacks and the level of diagnosis indicates clearly the influence a child’s home environment has upon the child’s respiratory health.
Asthma and lower socioeconomic status
And this research also provides more clarity on the difference between asthma rates among hispanic, white and black children and those among Puerto Rican children – particularly inter-city Puerto Rican children. In these homes, there appears to be increased levels of stress and depression. The causes of of this stress – the stressors – were not assessed in this study.
The fact that stress in the home is a critical health factor among children has been established in many other studies over the past few decades. Research from Vanderbilt University has found that coping with ongoing stress can contribute to chronic illnesses. The researchers analyzed different coping mechanisms, including active coping – which attempts to deal directly with the cause of the stress; accommodative coping – which attempts to adapt to the cause of the stress; and passive coping – wherein the child attempts to avoid or even deny the cause of the stress.
The research found that increased stressors along with poor coping mechanisms – particularly passive coping – can not only increase chronic illness incidence and reduce immunity, but they can result in adjustment issues for the child later in life.
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