Although there is clear evidence of the influence of parental factors on child health outcomes, the influence of parental perceptions of their health and illness on the reporting of child health remains primarily unknown.


To examine relationships between parents' reporting of their own health and illness with the reporting of their children's health and illness.


We surveyed parents of a representative population-based sample of children aged 5 to 18 years. One parent of each child completed a written questionnaire including the Child Health Questionnaire, a subjective measure of functional health and well-being, and an assessment of self-reported parental health and illness. Logistic regression models were used to examine relationships between parent and child health and illness.

Main Results.

5340 parents responded (86% mothers, 14% fathers). After adjusting for confounding effects, parents self-reporting poor health had increased odds of reporting their children with poor health (odds ratio: 7.5), although the effect was modified by parent gender. There were increased odds of mothers with self-reporting poor global health reporting their children with poor global health and illness (odds ratio: 9.0 and 2.5, respectively) that were not observed for fathers.


A mother's self-reported health is strongly associated with her reporting of her child's health; this was not observed for fathers. These results suggest that parental gender should be considered as a mediating factor in the reporting of child health.

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