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New Study Suggests Health Dangers for Children of Divorce

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children of divorce, health study, DuPage County family law attorneyWhile most parents who are considering divorce give a great deal of thought to how their children may be affected, they may not think about actual the health impact such a decision could have. Parents and experts tend to consider the psychological and behavioral effects primarily, but research is beginning to emerge that suggest that physiological health may also be impacted years into the future.

Longitudinal Research

A recent study conducted by researchers from Penn State University and the University of Louisville looked at long-term data nearly 15,000 men and women born in the United Kingdom in 1958. Published in the journal Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, the study sought to analyze the health impact of parental divorce at different stages in a child’s life.

The research team found that the youngest interval studied—birth to age seven—was the group most at risk for later health concerns when the child’s parents divorced. Those in that interval self-reported worse health at age 50 than those who experienced parental divorce at later ages. Divorce at the youngest interval was also linked, although not statistically significantly, with lower physical functioning and diagnosed health problems.

Contributing Factors

According to researchers, the decline in self-reported health may be linked to the corresponding drop in socioeconomic status common in post-divorce situations. Such a change places young people at risk for behavioral issues in late childhood, along with an increased likelihood of smoking in teen years and adulthood. The team hypothesized that “smoking may be a behavior adopted by children to deal with psychological and emotional stresses associated with a parental divorce,” but to date, there is not a great deal of research to validate such a claim.

Whether smoking is linked to the psychological effects of divorce or not, there is little question regarding the connection between smoking and overall health. Thus, as the rate of smoking increases among a certain age group, it is reasonable that self-reported health would be worse.

Divorce Help

Studies such as this one are not meant to suggest that couples should avoid divorce at all costs. They merely point out the struggles that many children may face, allowing parents to address them more effectively. If you are considering a divorce, our knowledgeable team can help understand all of the potential implications for yourself and your family. Contact an experienced Aurora family law attorney for assistance with your divorce today and get the answers you need to whatever questions you may have.


The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.


1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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