Rise in number of children exposed to maternal mental illness in the UK

  • Abel KM & al.
  • Lancet Public Health
  • 1 Jun 2019

  • curated by Pavankumar Kamat
  • UK Medical News
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According to a new research, one in four children in the UK aged 0-16 years have a mother with a mental illness. The findings were published in Lancet Public Health.

Researchers at the University of Manchester analysed 547,747 children aged 0-16 years (born between 1991 and 2015) and 381,685 mothers identified through the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink mother-baby link database.

The findings also showed that just more than half of the children will be exposed to maternal mental illness before they turn 16 years of age. Northern Ireland (29.8%) had the highest proportion of children living with mothers with a mental illness, while London (16.8%) had the lowest.

Being born into poverty or being born to teenage mothers increased the likelihood of the children's exposure to maternal mental illness. Between 2005 and 2017, there was a substantial rise in the proportion of children exposed to maternal mental illness. The number of children exposed to maternal anxiety or depression increased from 22.2 per cent in 2005-2007 to 25.1 per cent in 2015-2017.

Dr Matthias Pierce, the study author said: "As well as the consequences of having a mother suffering from mental health problems, these children face a number of adversities, including living in poverty and having a teenage parent."

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