Childhood intellectual disability and parents' mental health: integrating social, psychological and genetic influences.

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Intellectual disability has a complex effect on the well-being of affected individuals and their families. Previous research has identified multiple risk and protective factors for parental mental health, including socioeconomic circumstances and child behaviour.This study explored whether genetic cause of childhood intellectual disability contributes to parental well-being.Children from across the UK with intellectual disability due to diverse genetic causes were recruited to the IMAGINE-ID study. Primary carers completed the Development and Well-being Assessment, including a measure of parental distress (Everyday Feeling Questionnaire). Genetic diagnoses were broadly categorised into aneuploidy, chromosomal rearrangements, copy number variants (CNVs) and single nucleotide variants.Compared with the UK general population, IMAGINE-ID parents (n = 888) reported significantly elevated emotional distress (Cohen's d = 0.546). Within-sample variation was related to recent life events and the perceived impact of children's difficulties. Impact was predicted by child age, physical disability, autistic characteristics and other behavioural difficulties. Genetic diagnosis also predicted impact, indirectly influencing parental well-being. Specifically, CNVs were associated with higher impact, not explained by CNV inheritance, neighbourhood deprivation or family structure.The mental health of parents caring for a child with intellectual disability is influenced by child and family factors, converging on parental appraisal of impact. We found that genetic aetiologies, broadly categorised, also influence impact and thereby family risks. Recognition of these risk factors could improve access to support for parents, reduce their long-term mental health needs and improve well-being of individuals with intellectual disability.

Click here to read the full article @ The British journal of psychiatry : the journal of mental science


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