Health

Nasty divorces can affect kids' health for decades: Study

When children live through a contentious divorce or separation by their parents, the fallout appears to harm their health for decades, even into adulthood, said researchers.

Their study involved 201 healthy adults who agreed to be quarantined, exposed to a virus that causes the common cold and monitored for five days.

Those whose parents had separated and not spoken to each other for years were three times as likely to get sick compared to those whose parents had separated but stayed in touch as their children grew.

Previous research has shown that adults whose parents had separated during their childhoods have an increased risk for poorer health.

The latest study showed that this higher risk of illness is due, at least in part, to heightened inflammation in response to a viral infection, the report said.

"Early life stressful experiences do something to our physiology and inflammatory processes that increase the risk for poorer health and chronic illness," said Mr Michael Murphy, a psychology postdoctoral research associate at Carnegie Mellon University.

"This work is a step forward in our understanding of how family stress during childhood may influence a child's susceptibility to disease 20 to 40 years later."

ALL DIVORCES NOT EQUAL

The study also showed that the adult children of parents who had separated but stayed in touch are no more likely to get sick than the adult children of intact families.

"Our results target the immune system as an important carrier of the long-term negative impact of early family conflict," said Mr Sheldon Cohen, a co-author of the study.

"They also suggested that all divorces are not equal, with continued communication between parents buffering the deleterious effects of separation on the health trajectories of the children."

The findings were published in the Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal. - AFP


Anti-depressants may not be linked to ADHD in children

Women with depression may be more likely than other mothers to have children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) even if they do not take anti-depressants during pregnancy, a recent study suggested.

The results indicated that at least part of the link previously seen between children's exposure to anti-depressants during pregnancy and their risk of developing ADHD may be explained by "family factors" such as maternal depression, rather than the drugs themselves, the study authors wrote in the peer-reviewed medical journal The BMJ.

When the researchers compared the children of women with psychiatric disorders who had either taken anti-depressants during pregnancy or only before pregnancy, they found that the ADHD risk among their children was similar.

This was also true for siblings with the same mother but different exposures to anti-depressants during pregnancy.

"Pregnant women should not stop treatment because of concerns of ADHD in their children in the future," said senior study author Ian C.K. Wong, who is from the school of pharmacy at University College London. - REUTERS

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