Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Risk of Injury Greater in Young Children Who Have Parent With Serious Mental Illness

Young children who have at least one parent with a serious mental illness (SMI), such as schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder, may be more prone to injuries than those whose parents do not have SMI, according to a report published yesterday in JAMA Pediatrics. The risks of serious injury were highest in infants and decreased over time.

Shiow-Wen Yang, M.D., Ph.D., of Cathay General Hospital in Taiwan, Ann Vander Stoep, Ph.D., of the University of Washington, and colleagues made use of four Taiwanese national databases to access medical and birth data. They included 1,999,322 single-child births between January 1, 2004, and December 31, 2014, in their final analysis and tracked outcomes of each child up to age 5. The sample included 90,917 children who had at least one parent diagnosed with an SMI; this included parents diagnosed both before and after the child’s birth.

Within the study cohort, 54.1% were injured. A greater proportion of children who were exposed to a parent with SMI (61.0%) than those who were not exposed to parent with SMI (53.8%) sustained injuries, Stoep and colleagues reported.

After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, Stoep and colleagues calculated that, by age 5, children exposed to a parent with SMI were 14% more likely to sustain an injury, 49% more likely to require hospitalization for an injury, and 82% more likely to die by injury than children not exposed to a parent with SMI. As a control, the authors found that rates of appendicitis, a medical condition not influenced by behavior, did not differ based on parental SMI.

“[E]ffective management of parental SMI may have beneficial effects for child health,” Stoep and colleagues concluded. “Reducing stigma toward mental health treatment, enhancing parenting skills, and enacting home safety interventions for parents with SMI may contribute to a reduction in injury risk for their children.”

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