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Stress levels fluctuate among parents of children with type 1 diabetes

Fathers become more stressed over a one-year period looking after a child with type 1 diabetes, but mothers become less stressed, research suggests.
Scientists at Tilburg University in the Netherlands suggest that fathers assume more responsibility for care of their child with type 1 diabetes as they grow up.
While mothers were found to be more stressed at the beginning of this study, their stress levels reduced over the course of a year.
“This study indicates that mothers initially report higher level of pediatric parenting stress than fathers, but that the burden of care increases in fathers and decreases in mothers over the course of a year, suggesting that fathers start assuming more responsibility for the care of their children,” the researchers wrote.
The researchers compared levels of pediatric parenting stress in 112 parents (56 mothers) of young children, aged 5 years old on average, who had type 1 diabetes.
The parents completed questionnaires with scores calculated to determine a total difficulty stress score. Seventy-nine per cent of mothers and 55 per cent of fathers then completed the questionnaire again one year later.
Mothers had higher stress scores for communication frequency and difficulty, and emotional distress frequency at the first measurement. At the second measurement, fathers reported increased stress for these measures.
“We recommend that health care providers should collect information about stress levels in both parents periodically, because fathers and mothers seem to perceive pediatric parenting stress differently,” said the researchers.
“This would enable healthcare providers to determine whether one or both parents are in need of support not only to reduce pediatric parenting stress, but also to improve the functioning of the family as a whole.”
The findings were published in the journal Diabetic Medicine.

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