So the latest news is that parental stress can increase a child’s changes of DEVELOPING asthma, nevermind asthma attacks. Right – the pollution plays a role but PARENTAL STRESS is the biggie.
What a pile of …
Okay, I’ve been dealing with childhood asthma for 13 years. My eldest son developed mild asthma (along with environmental allergies) when he was about 5 years old. He outgrew it for the most part and has not needed any kind of puffer for years now. My youngest son developed serious asthma at age 3. With his first attack he almost died. The two years after his first attack were a time of high stress because we were in the hospital so much. Although we’ve noticed an increase in his tendency for an attack when HE is under stress (at school, at home, on a trip) I’ve noticed no difference in his asthma when I am highly stressed. Of course, living by the sea in Vancouver he wasn’t exposed to a lot of pollution either (the study in the news was done in Southern California). And, according to the study, if parents had high stress but did not live in a high pollution area, then there was no increase in the chance of the child developing asthma.
But this is all besides my point. What really irked me about this story was how the media treated it. Clearly the scientists stated that pollution was the underlying factor in the development of asthma. But the headlines shout “Parental Stress Linked to Kid’s Asthma.” It leaves a bad taste in my mouth because this whole parenting thing is fraught with enough opinions on how to be a “good” parent or not. If the kid has medical problems, the mother must have done something during pregnancy. Trust me, as a mother my experience has been to blame myself for my children’s health issues whether said blame is rational or not. What did I do wrong, what could I have done differently … was that one glass of wine in the ninth month what caused it? Was it all the insulin I had to inject? My god, was it the aspartame the nurse told me was okay to ingest? You get the picture – I don’t need the media to double the guilt.
Then there is the whole breastfeeding debate. I breastfed, yes, because I read it was best for baby but by the time my third child came along, I did so to save time. I’d tried bottles with my firstborn – what a pain in the arse. So, in part, I breastfed because it was a timesaver and more convenient. And the child who was breastfed the longest ended up having allergies, asthma and other issues. Just this week I read, after years of wondering WHY he was the one to develop the allergies, that, oops, breastfeeding actually may not prevent allergies in children. No shit, eh?
My underlying philosophy is as parents we do the best we can. We make mistakes – we are human. For our kids the most important thing is our love. I wonder if anyone has done a quantitative study on that? But then again, it probably wouldn’t be newsworthy.