delays and disabilities and respiratoryillnesses. Other research suggestseven parents’ jobs and entertainmentchoices can effect children’s cognitiveand non-cognitive development.
As well, children need caring, stablerelationships with their parents andother caregivers to be healthy.
“Children who experience chaoticenvironments have more challengesthan children who don’t,” says Dr.Suzanne Tough, the scientific directorat the Alberta Centre for Child, Familyand Community Research.
Chaos can come in many forms—housing instability, chronic illness,financial insecurity. The type of chaosis not as important as whether it’salleviated or aggravated by parents’and other caregivers’ responses to thesituation.
“If mom and dad are happy, it willbe easier for baby to be healthy anddevelop in a normal trajectory,” Toughsays.
Parental happiness and satisfaction
are not always easy, especially when it
comes to the “baby blues” (temporary
feelings of weepiness and anxiety) and
A newborn baby brings big changes
and it’s common for both parents to:
• Feel emotional highs and lows
• Lack confidence in their new roles
• Experience changes in their
• Feel tired from lack of sleep
• Try to do too much too soon
• Feel irritable or tense
• Find it hard to concentrate.
Postpartum depression is a moreserious mental health conditionexperienced women after birth. It canresult in feelings of anxiety and panicthrough to an inability to care for orabout one’s baby.
“One of the [biggest] challengesis when a mom has postpartumdepression, then her mental health canmake it more difficult to take care of achild,” Tough says.
About 10 to 24 per cent of women
experience postpartum depression
and anxiety, which have been linked
to significant delays in children’s
cognitive, behavioural and motor
skills. Of course, depression isn’t just
restricted to moms; the mental and
emotional health of dads and other
caregivers can equally affect a child’s
Parental and children’s health arealso affected by the resources andsupport in their extended family andin the community and health-caresystem.
In Alberta, hundreds of programsand services are available to helpparents better understand and managetheir and their children’s health. Oneof the best ways to learn about them isto call Health Link Alberta at1-866-408-LINK (5465).
— Lucas WarrenWith files from Terry Bullick