Objective: Previous research documents an association of poor parental mental health with asthma in children. This study aims to determine whether the associations between parental mental health problems and childhood asthma attacks persist after controlling for childhood anxiety and depression and other confounding factors.
Design/methods: A community household sample of youth ages 4 to 17 years and their primary caregivers from the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was studied to determine the associations between parental mental health and childhood asthma attacks. Regression models that predicted asthma attacks in youth controlled for parental mental health problems, childhood anxiety and depression, zone of residence, and parents' age, education, and perception of poverty.
Results: After adjusting for children's depressive and anxiety disorders as well as other important confounders, associations between parental depression, suicide attempts, ataque de nervios, and history of mental health treatment and asthma attacks in offspring, by parental report, persisted. Additionally, the frequency of parental mental health problems was associated with children's asthma attacks.
Conclusion: Parents with mental health problems were more likely to report histories of asthma attacks in their children compared with parents without mental health problems in Puerto Rico. These associations were not attributable to internalizing disorders in youth but persisted independent of childhood psychopathology and other confounding factors. Clinicians and researchers should recognize the relations between poor parental mental health and childhood asthma and explore the potential role of family psychosocial and behavioral factors related to the manifestation of the disease.