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16.34 3 Feb 2014


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Parents of children with disabilities are at a higher risk of depression and other chronic health conditions.

That is according to a study from the University of Limerick which shows 15% of parents who have children with disabilities were classified as 'depressed' - and less than half of those were treated for the problem.

Experts behind the study are pointing out that providing more support to these parents would not only benefit them but would indirectly benefit the whole family.

Study co-author, Dr. Stephen Gallagher said "Providing care to a child with a disability can often be very stressful. When parents lack the resources to manage the difficult situations they are experiencing their health is likely to suffer".

"Moreover, if their condition goes untreated the ill-effects can extend beyond the parent to influence the whole family" he added.

Using data and information from the 'Growing Up in Ireland' study, a nationally representative sample of over 8,500 9-year-old children in Ireland was used.

The study found higher rates of depression and a higher prevalence of chronic health conditions - such as respiratory and metabolic diseases - in parents caring for children with learning and developmental disabilities when compared to parents of typically developing children.

Professor Ailish Hannigan, study co-author, commented "The study took into account differences in demographics and pre-existing ill health before the birth of the child between the two groups of parents but found that one of the main contributing factors to the increased risk of depression was parental reports of child problem behaviours such as hyperactivity".

The study has been published in the international journal 'Research in Developmental Disabilities'.


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