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Parenting 101: Stroke Risk Higher for Kids of Divorce

Researchers in Canada who analyzed data from the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey of over 13,000 Saskatchewan and Manitoba residents discovered an association between parental divorce and strokes in adults. University of Toronto gerontologist Esme Fuller-Thompson, PhD found the connection while studying a link between childhood abuse and health rates later in life. Research seems to indicate that kids of divorced parents are twice as likely to suffer from a stroke later in life. The findings in this research study are preliminary and have yet to undergo the usual “peer review” process.

When a couple decides to take the route of divorce and break up a family, the emotional toll on children is immense. With divorce rates around 50 percent of all marriages, it’s likely that as many as half of all children will be affected negatively by divorce. Whether that negative effect will change the future health of those same kids in their later adult years remains to be proven. But it does bring up some interesting topics for discussion.

The Profound Effects of Divorce on Children

The break-up of their single core relationship is obviously a stressful time for children. For younger children, the trauma can be especially difficult. Think about how much young children depend on and anchor the security of their own identity in the two most important people in their young lives. When those two people break apart or divorce, the traumatic effect on children can be devastating. Extreme emotional and psychological turmoil has been proven to have a physiological effect on kids. Some experts believe that exposure to extreme stress during childhood may actually change the physiology of how people react to stress in adulthood.

Stroke Risk Factors: Obesity, Smoking, and Divorced Parents

The link between divorce and stroke risk in kids whose parents divorced was apparent even when researchers took out the other known associated stroke risk factors – obesity, smoking, and diabetes. According to the researchers, this is the first time a link has been shown. They do not yet know why the divorce/stroke risk exists.

Perhaps children who experience divorced parents are more likely to grow up in poverty than those kids whose parents remain together. Growing up in poverty creates major risk factors that lead to many adult health conditions later in life. One thing is for certain; this research does not show that children of divorced parents are going to suffer strokes in their later adult years.

Adult Stroke Rates Likely to Lower Divorce Rate

While that’s not a likely outcome, it’s interesting to think about the effects such a finding might have on modern-day parents who are contemplating divorce. Would a couple actually reconsider divorcing if they knew the split might adversely affect the future health of their own children? Could children retroactively sue their own parents in court for medical expenses incurred by a divorce which happened years before?

What about a child of divorce who “loses it” and ends up going berserk with a gun on some school campus and killing others? Could the parents of those victims sue the divorced parents for damages? Most would probably agree that even if these findings do prove a link, most people would likely continue on in pursuit of divorce in spite of any future consequences.

Most certainly, parents who divorce cause high levels of stress and trauma in the lives of their children. Not to mention that divorce sometimes leaves kids with the benefit of only a single parent. That makes the parenting responsibilities of that single parent exponentially harder.

It’s tough enough to try and successfully raise kids when both parents are in a loving relationship and in agreement as to the methods by which their own kids will be raised. Why make it tougher by divorcing when there is even the slightest hope of reconciliation. I’m not saying that every divorce can be averted, but for the sake of our kids, it surely would be better if some parents in some circumstances did not divorce.

Sources:

Kids of divorce have double the risk of stroke

Children of Divorce Face Higher Stroke Risk

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