Background Maternal depression and anxiety are common in the early years following childbirth and are associated with children’s health outcomes. The impact of maternal depression on childhood injuries is underexplored, with existing studies relying on maternal reporting of injury occurrences. Using linked population healthcare databases from England, we assessed the association between episodes of maternal depression and/or anxiety and the incidence of three common childhood injuries.
Methods We conducted a prospective cohort study of 209,418 mother-child pairs who had linked primary care and hospitalisation data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink and Hospital Episode Statistics from 1997–2014. Episodes of maternal depression and/or anxiety were identified using diagnostic codes, prescriptions and hospitalisation records. Adjusted incidence rate ratios (aIRR) for the risk of child poisonings, fractures and burns during episodes of maternal mental health episodes were estimated using Poisson regression.
Results 55,431 children (26.5%) were exposed to one or more episodes of maternal depression and/or anxiety between birth and their fifth birthday. During follow-up 2,772 poisoning, 6,252 fracture and 4,316 burn events occurred. Child poisoning risk increased during episodes of maternal depression (aIRR 1.61, 95% confidence interval 1.39–1.87), depression with anxiety (2.10, 1.74–2.53) and anxiety alone (1.61, 1.07–2.42). A similar pattern was seen for burns, with the greatest risk during episodes of depression with anxiety (1.53, 1.28–1.82). Fracture risk only increased during episodes of depression alone (1.16, 1.04–1.30).
Conclusions Episodes of maternal depression and/or anxiety were associated with increased risks of child poisonings and burns. Prompt identification and treatment of maternal depression and/or anxiety and provision of safety advice (e.g. safe medication storage) to mothers with depression and/or anxiety may reduce child injury risk.
- maternal depression
- maternal anxiety
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