Mothers who are often angry or irritable, or who suppress their emotions, may worsen the symptoms of their child's asthma, the results of a new study indicate.
Japanese researchers monitored 223 mothers over a 12-month period, investigating how their stress levels, coping skills and parenting styles were associated with their children's asthma status. All of the children were aged between two and 12.
The mothers' tendencies to reject, dominate, overprotect and indulge their children were assessed by questionnaires. The mother's stress levels and coping skills were also assessed.
The study found that over-interference stemming from being excessively protective was associated with a worsening of asthma symptoms in older children (aged over seven).
However, for those under the age of seven, a mother's chronic irritation and anger, or a tendency to suppress her emotional expressions, was predictive of more severe asthma in the subsequent year.
The mother's adherence to medical advice in relation to their child's asthma did not explain the link.
"A mother's stress (or wellbeing) may be verbally or non-verbally conveyed to her child, and affect the child's asthmatic status via a psycho-physiological pathway, such as a vulnerability to airway infections," said lead researcher, Jun Nagano, of the Kyushu University Institute of Health Science.
He added that the results suggest that the mothers of younger children should be advised not to worry about falling into ‘unfavorable' parenting styles, but to pay more attention to the reduction of their own stress.
"And 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."
Details of these findings are published in the journal, BioPsychoSocial Medicine.
One in five Irish children has asthma. For more information on the condition, see our Asthma Clinic here