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Children of Mothers With Mental Illness Less Likely to Receive Vaccines

Risk highest for children living with mothers with alcohol or substance misuse disorders

toddler getting vaccine

WEDNESDAY, May 13, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Children whose mothers have mental illness are significantly less likely to receive vaccinations through age 5 years, according to a study published online April 24 in the European Journal of Epidemiology.

Cemre Su Osam, from University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and colleagues used the Clinical Practice Research Datalink to identify 479,949 mother-baby pairs (born between 1993 and 2015). Children's vaccination status at 2 and 5 years of age was evaluated. Maternal mental illness (MMI) status was determined by recorded clinical events for depression, anxiety, psychosis, eating disorder, personality disorder, and alcohol and substance misuse disorders.

The researchers found that the likelihood that a child completed their recommended vaccinations by the ages of 2 years and 5 years was significantly lower among children with MMI versus children whose mothers were without mental illness (adjusted odds ratio, 0.86). The effect was strongest for children exposed to maternal alcohol or substance misuse (2 years: adjusted odds ratio, 0.50). An estimated 5,000 more children per year would be vaccinated in the United Kingdom if children with MMI had the same vaccination rates as children with well mothers.

"Maternal mental illness is a hitherto largely unrecognized reason that children may be missing vital vaccinations at 2 and 5 years of age," the authors write.

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