HealthDay News — Parental mental illness is associated with an increased risk for injuries among offspring, especially during the first year of the child’s life, according to a study published online April 8 in The BMJ.

Alicia Nevriana, from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and colleagues used data from Swedish population-based registers to identify 1,542,000 children born from 1996 to 2011 and their parents (893,334 mothers and 873,935 fathers). Inpatient and outpatient health care registers were used to identify maternal or paternal mental illness (nonaffective psychosis, affective psychosis, alcohol or drug misuse, mood disorders, anxiety and stress-related disorders, eating disorders, and personality disorders). Children’s injuries of interest included transport injury, fall, burn, drowning and suffocation, poisoning, and violence, which were assessed at ages 0 to 1, 2 to 5, 6 to 9, 10 to 12, and 13 to 17 years.

The researchers found higher rates of injuries among children of parents with mental illness than among children of parents without mental illness. For any injury at age 0 to 1 year, there were an additional 2,088 injuries per 100,000 person-years for children of parents with mental illness. The rate difference for injuries at age 0 to 1 year ranged from 18 additional transport injuries to 1,716 additional fall injuries per 100,000 person-years among children with parental mental illness versus children without parental mental illness. While a higher adjusted rate ratio for injuries was observed from birth through adolescence, the risk was highest during the first year of life (adjusted rate ratio at age 0 to 1 year for any parental mental illness and injuries, 1.30; range: 1.28 for fall injuries to 3.54 for violence-related injuries).

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“Our results show there is a need for increased support to parents with mental illness, especially during the first year of life,” Nevriana said in a statement. “There are already recommendations for new parents to ensure their children’s safety, but we think there is a need to update these recommendations also by taking into account parents’ mental health.”

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