An article by Shaun Heasley at Disability Scoop, "Disability Caregiving Can Be Health Hazard, Study Finds", 12/17/12, summarizes a recent study that concludes that "parents of children with developmental disabilities are experiencing health consequences stemming from their caregiving responsibilities…" I could have told you this from personal experience, but it is important that health problems in caregivers are taken seriously and studied scientifically.
The study by Stephen Gallagher and Jenny Whiteley was published in Research in Developmental Disabilities, November-December 2012. The abstract describes the study: "…Thirty-five parents of children with developmental disability and thirty controls completed standard measures of perceived stress, child challenging behaviours and social support and wore an ambulatory blood pressure (BP) monitor throughout the day, for one day." Most of the children with disabilities had autism or Down's syndrome.
I would have guessed that the higher blood pressure was due to added stress and "child challenging behaviours", but the researchers found that the increase was mostly associated with the parents of disabled children having fewer social supports.
It is amazing to me that this is the first study to compare blood pressure between these two groups of parents.
The many comments from caregivers left on the Disability Scoop Web site about this article are well worth reading.