May 12 (UPI) -- The effects of chronic illness in children can have a significant impact on their mental health when they become adults, according to a new study.
A study at the University of Sussex and University College London analyzed 37 medical studies to find a link between eight chronic childhood physical illnesses, including asthma, cancer, chronic renal failure, congenital heart disease, cystic fibrosis, type 1 diabetes, epilepsy and arthritis, and emotional problems later in life
Researchers found that all the children reviewed who experienced chronic conditions in childhood were at an increased risk of developing depression or anxiety and emotional problems that continued through adulthood.
"In particular, we found that cancer was significantly associated with adult depression," Dr. Darya Gaysina, of the University of Sussex, said in a press release. "Although the research on other chronic conditions is very limited, when we removed cancer from the sample, the link was still there. So it is not only cancer that's associated with adult emotional problems."
Researchers examined 45,000 participants in the study.
"Very little is known about life-long effects of childhood chronic physical illness on mental health," Gaysina said. "Our results show that childhood chronic physical illness was significantly associated with adult depression in the total sample of more than 45,000 participants studied."
The study was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.