The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, found the anxiety persists even after a deployed parent returns home.
Dr. Patricia Lester of the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues also found the level of anxiety that a child of a deployed parent experiences can be predicted by how much psychological distress is shown by both the active-duty parent and the parent at home.
The researchers studied 171 families with a mother or father currently deployed or recently returned from serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. The active-duty parent had, on average, been deployed more than twice and had been away for about 16 months.
"Approximately one-third of the at-home parents and almost 40 percent of the recently returned deployed parents showed elevations in anxiety and depression," Lester said in a statement.
"The at-home parent showed higher levels of anxiety when their spouse was deployed. But the two key markers for anxiety in the child were the distress levels of both parents and the number of months a parent had been deployed during the child's lifetime."