Asthma attacks may be triggered by stressed-out moms. Asthmatic children of stressed and overly intrusive mothers are more likely to suffer from severe asthma symptoms according to research conducted by The Institute of Health Science in Fukuoka, Japan. Fortunately, this study also showed that parenting style adjustment could help lessen the severity of asthma.
Mothers were invited to participate in the study if their child was between 2 and 12 years of age, asthmatic for at least a year, visited the hospital repeatedly during the previous year and used medication regularly. In total, 223 women completed the original questionnaire and follow-up that occurred a year later.
The initial questionnaire consisted of questions about the mother’s occupation, health, stress-coping behaviors and parenting style. Parenting style was evaluated according to several behaviors that are known to negatively affect a child, such as chronic irritation, unstable reactions of sadness and depression and egocentric attitudes. They were also asked to evaluate the severity of their child’s asthma symptoms during the past year, the frequency of medication use, and their adherence to treatment practices like reducing the amount of allergens in the home. The follow-up questionnaire included the same questions.
The results demonstrated that the mother’s parenting style and mental well-being were associated with the severity of their child’s asthma symptoms according to age. Children younger than 7 were largely unaffected by their mother’s parenting style, although they were more likely to experience severe asthma symptoms if their mother displayed chronic anger, annoyance and lacked friends. For children 7 years and older, the opposite result was found. The mother’s mental well-being was not an important factor, but older children of an egotistical mother who was less likely to interfere showed a decrease in symptom severity. In both cases, adherence to treatment practices did not change the results.
This study is not without its limitations. First, the mothers were asked to evaluate their child’s symptoms not the children themselves, so evaluation errors could have skewed the results. Second, only the mothers were asked to participate, even though in some cases, the father may have had a stronger effect on the child’s asthma than the mother. However, his focus on mother-child relationships is appropriate because similar studies conclude that mothers are an important determining factor of child health.
As mentioned in the study, mothers of older children can help their child by allowing them to make independent decisions: too much coddling could harm their health and maturity. Meanwhile, mothers of younger children can help their children by improving their own health. If you fear that your anxiety can hurt you and your child, practice different techniques to reduce your stress.