Silhouette of a angry husband and wife on each other with their daughter standing in the middle.

How divorce affects the health of children?

It’s always hard on children who are exposed to their parents separating or getting divorced, causing them much stress, anxiety and sadness.

Such  stressful experiences causes both long term mental and physical problems in children.

Previous research has indicated that adults whose parents separated during childhood have an increased risk of poorer health.

A team led by Carnegie Mellon University psychologists set out to understand if there are any specific aspects which contribute to such long-term Health outcomes in children.

The increased risk found in adults from non-communicating separated parents was due, in part, to enhanced inflammation in response to a viral infection.

For this study, 201 healthy volunteers age 18 to 55 years were assessed regarding their parents’ relationship during their childhood. After which the volunteers were quarantined and exposed to a virus which causes the common cold.

They were monitored for five days for the development of respiratory illnesses.

The scientists found that adults whose parents had separated but did not speak to each other during their childhood had three times the likelihood of developing a cold when exposed to the common cold virus than those adults who parents were together.

They also found that adults whose parents were separated but communicated with each other showed no increase in risk compared to intact families.

These differences persisted even after adjusting for potentially confounding variables – demographics, current socioeconomic status, body mass index, season, baseline immunity to the challenge virus, affectivity, and childhood socioeconomic status.

The increased risk found in adults from non-communicating separated parents was due, in part, to enhanced inflammation in response to a viral infection.

The scientists explain that the immune system is an important carrier of long term negative impact caused by early childhood conflict, affecting physiological and inflammatory processes and thus resulting in poorer health and chronic illnesses in adulthood.

All separation and divorce is not the same, but if parents maintain reasonably amicable communication between themselves, then they could potentially avoid their children developing health issues later on in life.

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Meena Azzollini

Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!

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