Are Kids Of Divorce At Risk For Stroke?


Here's an interesting study deserving of attention from divorce attorneys in Pasadena and doctors alike: Children of divorce are more than twice as likely to suffer a stroke at some point in their lives. While psychologists and therapists long have speculated about the emotional damage caused to children of divorce, new research from the University of Toronto suggests that divorce can actually impact the physical wellbeing of children, too.

Conducted by professor Esme Fuller Thompson of the University of Toronto along with graduate students Angela Dalton and Rukshan Mehta, the study made headlines with the shocking claim that children of divorce are at high risk to experience a stroke. While the study doesn't conclusively prove that a parents' divorce will cause strokes in their children, it does link the health condition with marital collapse. According to the study, kids of divorce had twice the odds of stroke compared to people of the same age who grew up with parents who stayed together.

"We were very surprised that the association between parental divorce and stroke remained so strong even after we had adjusted for smoking, obesity, exercise and alcohol consumption," says Fuller Thompson.

Fuller Thompson and her colleagues presented their findings at the Gerontological Society of America annual meeting in New Orleans on November 22. The study also looked at income, education, race, sex, diabetes and other variables. Yet even with the other components, the association between the two was extremely high. Of the more than 10 percent of the 13,134 total study respondents whom had experienced parental divorce as children, 1.9 percent reported they had been diagnosed with a stroke at some point in their lives.

Yet Fuller Thompson says there is more research to be done to conclusively link strokes and children of divorce.

"Research on childhood poverty and on childhood abuse suggests that severe and chronic stress in childhood can adversely impact the way that child will physiologically respond to the stressors they face across the whole life course," says Thompson Fuller. "Hopefully future research could shed some light on what role, if any, cortisol (the fight-or-flight hormone we produce when stressed) plays in the parental divorce-stroke association."