There's been a lot of controversy surrounding the psychological effects of divorce on children. Now, researchers warn of medical repercussions, as a study conducted at the University of Toronto suggests that the children of divorced parents are at higher risk for a stroke.
At this point, the research shows only a correlative, not causal relationship between divorce and strokes; what's sure is that they're connected, however. Of the 13,000 people surveyed by Statistics Canada (the Canadian equivalent to the U.S. Census Bureau), those who said their parents had divorced early on were twice as likely to have suffered a stroke at some point than those whose parents had not divorced. The link between stroke and divorced parents remained even after researchers adjusted for variables like education, gender, lifetime health issues and income. 10 Down and Dirty Divorce Tricks
Although this information may seem alarming, the researchers themselves hesitate to say that divorce causes stroke, although stress does manifest itself in physical symptoms. "I certainly don't want this to be taken to mean that children from divorced households are condemned to have strokes," study author Dr. Esme Fuller-Thomsen, a professor at the University of Toronto, told Businessweek. "It could be that many other things are at work here that are related to divorce, but are not divorce itself. We just don't know yet." 3 Things I Learned From My Parents' Divorce
One explanation for the correlation is that those surveyed who had suffered a stroke were in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. Back when they were children, divorce was less socially acceptable than it is today, which means that the consequences of divorce may have been harsher back then than it is now. You could argue that the information gathered is not relevant to contemporary children of divorce. Good Divorce Is Not An Oxymoron
Other researchers, such as Dr. Kirk Garratt, who specializes in cardiovascular research in New York City, agree that it's too early to draw conclusions from the study. If anything, it invites discussion into "the unique social trauma that might come along" with divorce. After all, plenty of people who come from unhappily intact families will agree that life would have been less stressful if their parents had split up instead of trying so hard to stay together.
Whether or not these findings become more developed, the researchers agree that parents who are considering a divorce should not hold off on proceedings just because they'll risk giving their kids a stroke fifty years down the line.