From Featuring Dr Chris Steele MBE

Mother's stress may affect child's asthma

Mothers should allow time for themselves

Mothers who are often angry or irritated or suppress their emotions can worsen their child's asthma, particularly when the children are younger, new research claims.

A team of Japanese researchers tracked 223 mothers of children aged 2 to 12 to find out how a mother's stress levels, coping styles and parenting styles affected their child's asthma symptoms.

Mothers' tendencies to reject, dominate, overprotect and indulge their children were assessed by questionnaire, as were their specific kinds of chronic stress and coping styles.

Over protective mothers were associated with worse asthma in children over seven years old.

For those under seven years old, more severe illness was likely if their mother suppressed her emotions or was chronically irritated or angry.

Jun Nagano from the Kyushu University Institute of Health Science, Fukuoka, said that a mother's stress may be verbally or non-verbally conveyed to her child, and affect how the child's immune system reacts to allergens.

He said: "Our results suggest that the mothers of younger children may be advised not to worry about falling into unfavourable parenting styles, but to pay more attention to the reduction of their own stress; and that the mothers of older children may be encouraged to increase their own wellbeing via proper egocentric and self-defensive activities, being careful to avoid too much interference with their children."

The study findings are published in the journal BioPsychoSocial Medicine.

This article was published on Thu 7 October 2010