OBJECTIVE: To explore the association between maternal disability as measured by the presence of a limiting longstanding illness (LLI) 9 months postpartum and subsequent child health at the age of 7 years.
DESIGN: Nationally representative prospective longitudinal study.
SETTING: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
PARTICIPANTS: Secondary analysis of data on 11 807 mother-child pairs recruited to the UK Millennium Cohort Study. Baseline interviews with mothers were carried out in 2001-2002. When the children were 7 years old, the follow-up survey included questions about limiting longstanding health conditions in the child.
PRIMARY OUTCOME MEASURE: Any longstanding condition that was reported to limit the children's activities in any way.
RESULTS: Nearly 7% of all children were reported to have an LLI at the age of 7 years. The majority (88.1%, 95% CI 85.6% to 90.2%) of children whose mother was disabled did not have an LLI themselves. The children of disabled mothers, however, had higher odds of LLI (OR=1.9, 95% CI 1.5 to 2.5) independently of different maternal, pregnancy and birth characteristics and breast feeding duration. Inclusion of poverty measures in the model did not significantly affect the odds (OR=1.8, 95% CI 1.4 to 2.4), suggesting that maternal LLI around the time of birth increases the odds of child LLI at the age of 7 years independently of starting life in poverty.
CONCLUSIONS: There is a strong positive association between maternal and child LLI. Health professionals should work together with social care and other relevant service providers to identify the individual needs of disabled parents and provide adequate support throughout the pregnancy and after the child is born. Further research is important to clarify the exact nature of the associations for different types of maternal and child disability.
- Journal Article