GRANDPARENTS who provide more than 60 hours of childcare a month are more likely to suffer from the symptoms of depression.
The research at Trinity College, involving 7,500 older people, has found a huge reliance on grandparents as parents seek to avoid crippling childcare costs.
Those providing high levels of childcare experience significantly more depressive symptoms. The findings are included in a paper due to be presented later this year as part of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (Tilda) project.
It found around 60pc of grandparents had looked after their grandchildren at some point in the previous month.
And of grandparents providing childcare, almost one in five looked after their grandchildren for more than 60 hours a month.
Negative health effects were also noted, according to epidemiology research fellow Christine McGarrigle.
“Grandparents who provide higher levels of childcare experience significantly more depressive symptoms,” she said.
However, the research found that depressive symptoms were moderated in cases where grandparents also participated in social or leisure activities. The study also found that grandparents with higher levels of education are less likely to suffer from depressive symptoms.
“This increase in depressive symptoms was seen in the lower educational attainment group,” said Ms McGarrigle.
Grandparents with third-level education were also less likely to be minding grandchildren more than 60 hours per month, the study found.
Ms McGarrigle said the findings contradict the perception that all grandparents are
alike, with similar abilities and interest in providing care for their grandchildren.
She said that how happy a grandparent is about providing childcare really depended on what their expectation was to begin with.
The findings are due to be presented at a major international conference this June at Syracuse University in New York.
An survey earlier this year found parents need to earn up to €30,000 a year just to fund the cost of childcare for two children.