Gallagher S, Phillips AC, Drayson MT & Carroll D (2009) Caregiving for Children With Developmental Disabilities Is Associated With a Poor Antibody Response to Influenza Vaccination. Psychosomatic Medicine, 71 (3), pp. 341-344. https://doi.org/10.1097/psy.0b013e31819d1910
Older spousal caregivers of dementia patients have been found to show a relatively poor antibody response to medical vaccination. In the present case control study in a different caregiving environment, we sought to compare antibody responses to vaccination in parents of children with disabilities and parents of typically developing children.
At baseline assessment, 32 parents of children with developmental disabilities and 29 parents of typically developing children completed standard measures of perceived stress and child problem behaviors. They also provided a blood sample and were then vaccinated with the thymus-dependent trivalent influenza vaccine. Further blood samples were taken at 1- and 6-month follow-ups.
Relative to parents of typically developing children (mean titer = 458, standard deviation (SD) = 155.7 at 1 month follow-up and mean titer = 265, SD = 483.0 at 6-month follow-up), caregivers (mean titer = 219, SD = 528.4 at 1-month follow-up and 86, SD = 55.0 at 6-month follow-up) mounted a poorer antibody response than controls to the B/Malaysia strain of the vaccine.
The negative impact of caregiving on antibody response to vaccination would not seem to be restricted to older spousal caregivers, but is also evident in younger parents caring for children with developmental disabilities. The behavioral characteristics of the care recipients may be a determinant of whether or not antibody response to vaccination is compromised.
Psychosomatic Medicine: Volume 71, Issue 3