Parental Stress Is Associated with Poor Outcomes in Adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes

Depression and Poor Metabolic Control for Children with Type 1 Diabetes

Sad and depressed teenage girl sitting on her bed with her worried mother on the backgroundIs there a relationship between parental stress and the emotional and physical outcomes of adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM)? Researchers in the Netherlands set out to explore the association between levels of stress faced by mothers and fathers of adolescents with T1DM, and the children’s metabolic control and depressive symptoms.

The study, “The interrelationships among paternal and maternal parenting stress, metabolic control, and depressive symptoms in adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus” was published in September 2012 online ahead of print in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

The researchers looked at data on 151 adolescents with the disease. The mean age of children included in the study was 14.9 ± 1.7 years. A control group of adolescents was also examined (n = 122).  The researchers looked at children’s depressive symptoms and behavior problems. Additionally, medical records were used to obtain an assessment of metabolic control (using glycosylated hemoglobin values, or HbA1c).

Data was also collected on the mothers and fathers of adolescents in the study. The mothers (T1DM n = 126; control n = 106) and fathers (T1DM n = 103; control n = 55) reported their levels of parental stress.

The results showed that parenting stress was associated with symptoms of depression in children with diabetes, but not in the comparison group. Fathers of children with T1DM reported parental stress that was significantly higher than fathers of children without the condition. The study also found that parenting stress explained some of the variance (22% in mothers, 25% in fathers) in depressive symptoms in adolescents with T1DM, and some of the variance (19% in mothers, 18% in fathers) in children’s HbA1c.

The researchers conclude that their study demonstrates an association between depressive symptoms and metabolic control in adolescents with type 1 diabetes and the parenting stress experienced by their mothers and fathers.

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